A Lifetime of Stories writer and founder Suzanne Petkus Becker is the author of over 20 personal biographies. She is a Registered Drama Therapist, having earned her master’s degree at Antioch University and her certification through the two-year drama therapy program at the Institute for the Arts in Psychotherapy in New York City. She received her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University with a major in Communications and a minor in English. Following her undergraduate work, she moved across the Hudson to New York City, where she studied Method Acting at the Robert Patterson Studio and completed a two-year program at New Actors Workshop, studying with George Morrison, Mike Nichols, and Paul Sills, as well as completing her graduate studies in Drama Therapy. Suzanne has worked with various populations, including children, combat veterans suffering from PTSD, substance abusers, and those suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and dementia.
“I became interested in writing people’s stories when my grandmother was very ill. She had a stroke and I was at her bedside for several weeks. Once she passed away, I began writing about her last days and interspersing those moments with my memories of her. It was my way of mourning and celebrating the life of this very special person. This resulted in a little book that I gave to family members, some of whom lived far away. Through this memoir they were able to be with her for her final days and were able to revisit favorite memories as well as hear, possibly for the first time, several stories newly told.
Years later, once I was a practicing Drama Therapist and mother of two, my other grandmother was approaching 100 years of age. I would visit weekly and ask her questions about her life. I would then sit in my car and feverishly try to jot down every story, date, and detail that she had shared. This too was shared with family and parts of it were read at her funeral (one month shy of 100 years of age!). A seed of an idea was planted.
I have always been drawn to one-on-one interactions, most formally as a therapist. While working with the elderly, I was touched by the stories that were shared. I delighted in seeing, for example in the case of a particular 90-year old man, the spark of his 20-year old self coming through his eyes as he shared a memory of a moment long forgotten. He expressed that he felt seen in those moments.
Coming to this work with a strong writing background, an affinity for conducting one-on-one interviews, and passion for the individual – for the individual to be seen and heard and celebrated – I am able to create a vehicle of remembrance for family, friends, colleagues, and future generations. That is what excites me.”