Been reading over The Hawk: Part One, and while a lot happens in that novel, the beginning is a love story between a husband and wife. Love stories permeate my work, be it in books or quilts. Within tall tales, often characters are already in love, so I eschew the romance tag. And in this saga, all the couples are already firmly attached. Still, love has its ups and downs, so there is drama to be explored, amid other intriguing plot lines. But now that I’ve completed Part One, moving back to the entire manuscript to continue the revisions and refresh myself for when actual writing does commence, I wanted to note why love plays such an important part of who I am as an author, quilter, etc, etc, etc….
Foremost I draw upon the nearly thirty-year relationship I’ve shared with my best friend, who happens to be my spouse. When I write of love at first sight, it’s due to how we met at a college radio station and instantly were smitten. Decades, many kids and few grandchildren later, he is still my one and only, and we joke about just how married we are, like when we travelled to see our eldest last week, who was hosting our youngest and the burrito; I said that going to a grocery store was fine for picking up lunch-type items, and he laughed, that very same notion what he was texting to our girls at that moment. The incidents go on and on, for which I am grateful, and amazed, but he’s all I ever wanted, still desire, and eagerly await the future with; I like growing older with him, for he makes me laugh loudly, shiver in excitement, and breathe with ease. And when that’s how love is realized, how can I help but relate those fantastic emotions into my novels?
I’m blessed to be surrounded with many other happy and stable partnerships on both sides of our families and friends. Those couples weave in and out of my life, touching my work with their varied and plentiful tales of joy, also some sorrows; a writer can’t survive on sunshine and smiles alone. But the clouds are tackled with faith within those relationships, and the strength of love prevails. Love is an awesome and blessed power, although it does end. Sometimes it fades away, is harmed and cannot recover. And sometimes, death severs the cord which no other manner of separation could achieve.
I’m thinking about my parents, my mom especially. Dad’s in a peace none of us here can fathom, but what about his better half?
I took photos of my father, along with us kids, during his last weeks, my sister-in-law took shots too. When I look at them now, it’s strange, for it’s like a fleeting version of my dad, those last three and a half weeks putting all of us in places and situations we had never been before. When I juxtapose that onto my parents, I come back to the above shot, and I don’t even know why I took it. But when I gaze at it now, typing these sentences, I return to Mom’s head resting on Dad’s shoulder, her gaze lost to all else but the man she loves.
Love isn’t always flowers and chocolates, but let me share with you a little tale that is all truth (sometimes the most incredible parts are all reality, for they are so precious and wonderful not even the most imaginative writer could concoct them). On the sixteenth of March, I was sitting with Dad, and he asked what the date was, that he didn’t even know what day we were in. I told him, and he nodded, then looked at me. “Okay,” he said, “so I want you to get Mom a pound of chocolates for St. Patrick’s Day.”
Mom’s family is Irish, but I don’t think that was the sole motivation behind the candies, Sees’ Candies, he noted, then he sighed. “They’re expensive, but she really likes them.”
I smiled. “Yeah, they’re not cheap, but they’re the best. I’ll go in with you, we’ll get her two pounds.”
He nodded. “That’s a good idea.” Then he patted his leg under the blanket. “I’ve got cash in my pants pocket. You can get it out of there.”
I smiled, fully aware that his jeans were at home. “I’ll do that.”
He was quiet for a few minutes, then he looked at me again. “And get her a card too. Sign it from you and me.”
“Will do,” I said, trying to keep my voice even.
That afternoon, I bought a two-pound box of assorted Sees’ Candies, plus a Happy St. Patrick’s Day card, which I signed from everyone in the family, pets included, which meant Buttercup as well as the folks’ cat Star and other beloved animals within our sprawling clan. I left the box for Mom, for sometimes we met in passing, or depending on our schedules, we kept in touch via a notepad in Dad’s bedside table drawer. Normally we noted his meds, his mood, and anything else that we thought the next person might need to know. The card was taped to the box, so I knew she wouldn’t miss it. And later I reiterated his desire for her to have a treat for a rather innocuous day on the calendar. They always had corned beef and cabbage, but Mom’s Irish heritage wasn’t often feted. Yet Dad had wanted to give her something, and while I’ll never know if he realized the depth of that gift, the rest of us did.
And this is why I write love stories. Sometimes they are firmly based in reality, sometimes they are hedged in magical realism. But even the tallest tale is rooted in the most secure and lasting element humans can grace upon one another. Genres come and go, but romance is still the hottest style around. Yet, to me, romance is the tip of the iceberg; to nurture and thrive within a loving relationship is what makes this world go round. I have been so blessed within my realm, that reciprocating all that love is essential. My hands are full; let me share some with you.