Growing up in Pompton Plains, Morristown resident and writer Judith Hugg-Eckhard lived with a mother who was a paranoid schizophrenic.
And yet, now that she has opened up to this publicly in her first book, "To See the Sky: Vignettes of Grace," released in December by Tate Publishing, the 59-year-old no longer feels the need to conceal it as "a shameful family secret."
"It's been a relief," Hugg-Eckhard said.
But, the writer noted "To See the Sky: Vignettes of Grace" is not just about her upbringing, in which she found herself looking for meaning and understanding through God, as her brother went the complete opposite route, becoming a staunch Atheist. Nor is it meant to be a depressing read.
"It's not a book about a 'poor me' childhood," Hugg-Eckhard said. "It's about finding joy."
That joy has come through many facets of the writer's life, from not only coming to terms with a trying childhood, but also from nature, and from her nearly 25-year marriage to husband Tom Eckhard, and their life in Morristown.
One story, Hugg-Eckhard said, talks about her 50th birthday party at Cutter's, a Morristown icon which closed several years ago and is now the home of .
Though her first published book, Hugg-Eckhard has been writing since her childhood. Her first published poem came when she was 17, with a number of articles in various Christian magazines coming later. Much of the work in "To See the Sky: Vignettes of Grace" is based on source material that spans multiple decades.
While Hugg-Eckhard–a member of –described herself as a person of faith, "I don't like being called religious."
Her writings, and much of their subject matter, is Christian in nature, "but not preachy," she said. "This is my experience."
What the reader gets out of "To See the Sky: Vignettes of Grace," be they of a religious leaning or not, is up to their interpretation. "It's about finding their way to God and finding that joy in the beauty of nature.
"And, to be entertained," Hugg-Eckhard said.
"To See the Sky: Vignettes of Grace," by Judith Hugg-Eckhard, is available now. For more information, including interviews, book club appearances and more, visit http://judithhugg.tateauthor.com/