Before I Leave by Jenney Egertson

Before I Leave follows Jenney’s journey from the moment her long-buried dream to become a writer re-emerged, through the fear she felt through middle age, to the sense of calm and acceptance she came to in her sixties. This is a book to be shared across generations as women everywhere continue to reclaim their lives and voices.

BeforeILeaveHC_jacket FINAL.jpg

About Before I Leave

In July of 2000, Jenney Egertson met 80-year-old Maude Kelly. The following day, Jenney had an idea that felt more like a command: give Maude and a diverse group of women over the age of 80 a voice by writing a book to capture their stories and advice. It was the first step in a journey that would span decades.

As Jenney interviewed and wrote about her subjects during the fifteen turbulent years that followed, she learned about aging, parenting, facing adversity, navigating systemic racism and sexism, and accepting community. As she grew to know and love these women, they became her mentors and friends. In the end, these powerful relationships gave Jenney the courage she needed to reclaim a precious gift: her voice as both a woman and a writer.


To my family: my parents, Dave and Edith Egertson, who told me every step of the way that I could do it; my original partner in crime, Kyle Radcliffe, and our daughter, Rowan; my loving partner, Kevin Volk; my siblings, Jeff, Vonnie, and Joe, who kept me honest; my aunt and uncle, Bonnie and Joel Egertson, who had the guts to tell me the truth for eighteen years; and the many other relatives who reviewed chapters and offered encouragement.

To the people who trusted me to treat their mothers, aunts, grandmothers and mentors with dignity and respect: Beth Kelly, Tony Mefleh, Joyce Yamamoto, Carol Johnson, and Bernadeia Johnson.

To the talented professionals who helped me to organize, edit, produce, and market my manuscript: my editors Peggy Henrikson and Erik Hane, and my publishing mentor Dara Beevas and her talented team at Wise Ink.

And most of all, to the amazing women who told me their stories and gave me permission to age: Maude Kelly, Irene Egertson, Sadie Anton, Ruth Yamamoto, Dr. Hallie Hendrieth-Smith, and Edith Egertson.

This book has come to life because of you.


jenney e.png

Author’s Note

Jenney Egertson decided she was a writer at the age of seven. After growing up, she taught high school English, worked in corporate America, and served both corporate and nonprofit clients as a freelance writer and communications consultant before publishing her first book at the age of sixty-four.

Jenney lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her partner, her daughter, two dogs, and a cat. She still believes in magic; when she’s not reading, writing, or fishing, she loves to be surrounded by family, friends, and as many animals as possible (wild or domesticated, and greyhounds in particular).