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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

Growing up in Maine (and visiting my parents on the coast as an adult), Memorial Day meant one thing: the beginning of the summer season (which ends on Labor Day).

Here in the "heartland," Memorial Day is a big deal. Patriotism, Mom and apple pie are all rolled together, and we are reminded, as we ought to be, of the sacrifice men and women have made--continue to make--in defense of the freedom I enjoy.

My thoughts run to Memorial Day three years ago, when during the service, they listed the names of everyone in the church body who had died during the past twelve months. Last on the list: Jolene Elizabeth Franklin. Oh, Jolene. But it's more of a mosquito bite than a snake's venom. A mild annoyance. Instead, I thank God that my family--going back to my grandfather's service in World War I, my uncle's service in World War II, my father in the Korean war, my ex-husband during the VietNam era--all of them came through, unhurt. Neither I nor my children would be here today if they had fallen. At least not the "me" I am.

Because of the drama inherent in war, all of my historical novels have strong ties to war. Wow, I just realized that.

  • Revolutionary War: In Prodigal Patriot, Josiah Tuttle is torn between honoring his (Tory) Father and following his conscience in support of the revolution.

  • War of 1812: Both Calvin Tuttle (Bridge to Love) and Sam Hathaway (Beacon of Love) are veterans of the war and carry scars.

  • Civil War: Daniel Tuttle (Love's Raid) lost his arm in battle and feels less than a man.

  • Texas' War for Independence and the War with Mexico form the backdrop for the upcoming Lone Star Trail.

  • And lastly, the Mason County War, an ugly ethnic/range war, is at the heart of my current WIP, A Ranger's Trail.

At least I have avoided the wars in my novellas . . .

Thank you, to all who have served and given their all in defense of our country.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

For all NBA fans

So it's Memorial Day already. Spring is quickly becoming summer (read: too hot for comfort in Oklahoma). We've had several severe thunderstorms in keeping with the season.

And speaking of thunder, the OKC Thunder are playing in the Western Conference finals. The excitement in town reminds of the buzz when the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup during their first year in Denver--and several years later, when at last John Elway and the Broncos won the Super Bowl (on their fifth attempt? something like that.) Madness, euphoria--watercooler talk gone mad. Everyone in the city is talking about it.

I love sports. I think given the incentive, I would have enjoyed them as a child. However, the only sport my mother had interest in was boxing. She listened to fights on the radio with her father; maybe they heard the now-famous bout between Max Schmeling and Joe Louis.

But I remember following the Red Sox during the Yaz years. . . and I had to attend all forty high school football games as part of the marching band (in four years we only won or tied ten of those games).

In college our soccer team competed in the national tournament for Christian colleges. We were good.

But my keen interest in professional sports developed in my years as a single mother. Two events stand out in my mind:

Watching Jimmy Connors rise to the quarter-finals of the US Open--a man not much older than I was, defying the odds. I stayed up until midnight, watching him play, and then fell asleep, exhausted.

Denver was the first (the only!) four-sport city I lived in. I made it to hockey, baseball, and basketball games (both my kids got to see the Broncos. I didn't. Boo hoo)

I remember the Rockies' first year, when they played in the old Coors Field. I watched EY's (Eric Young) home runs to begin and end the season, and the "Big Cat"'s (Andres Gallaraga) pursuit of the batting title. We sat on aluminum bleechers, that thundered under thousands of stomping feet. The fence was so low, I felt like I could reach out and touch the legends of the game--stars like David Justice and Steve Avery of the World Series Champion Atlanta Braves.

I was in Denver for two Stanley Cup wins by the Colorado Avalanche, two Superbowl wins by the Denver Broncos, and one World Series appearance by the Colorado Rockies. And I loved it.

This year the Denver Nuggets played the OKC Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

I was rooting for the Thunder.

I guess I really have become an Oklahoman.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Today is the fourth mother's day since Jolene' death. And year by year, it's been a horrible day. Three years ago, Mom and I were reeling from our loss. Two years ago was my first day alone, since Mom had moved to Oklahoma. And one year ago, Mom's death was fresh on my heart.

Let's just say they were brutal. And I was prepared for a quiet, but not agonizing, holiday. Jaran's focus must be on his wife, the mother of his children. I wouldn't have it any other way.

But Friday night he called with an invitation to dinner last night. The simple joys of sitting with my son, his beautiful, sweet wife, and the two grandchildren of my body . . . what more could I want?

Jordan called me "Grandma" for the first time this week--and it felt almost as special as hearing Jaran call me "mama" for the first time all those years ago.

The joys of motherhood and grandmotherhood:

  • Listening to Jordan squeal as we play a game of Peek a Boo.

  • Applauding for her "concert" of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

  • Accepting her gift of macaroni and cheese spooned from her plate onto mine.

  • Having her cry "Happy to you!" when I opened my gift

  • Holding Isaiah and making him laugh

  • Watching Isaiah stare at me, a smile fixed on his face, while Shelley feeds him dinner.

  • Listening to my son make one of his silly jokes.

  • Accepting hugs and kisses from Jordan.

  • Hearing Shelley say "sometimes when Jordan laughs she looks so much like Jolene. . ."

  • Enjoying music with my granddaughter--she must be my flesh and blood if she loves music (Shelley says Isaiah is the same way)

Last night, and today, I feel joy, peace, happiness, and none of the wrenching sense of loss of the last three years. I miss Mom and Jolene. But for today, I am thankful for what I have.

I thank God for today's sunshine.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


That's the way I've been feeling lately. I have few social obligations and when health keeps me housebound, I feel cut off and wonder if I'm battling demon depression.

But I don't want to dwell on that so I decided to look at a famous recluse/writer: Emily Dickinson. And the little I've done blows me away. So I thought I would use her words to describe some of my recent experiences.

Glee! The storm is over!
For me, that's the latest "storm" of edits which I completed on Lone Star Trail. I don't want to complain so let's just say they were thorough ... exhaustive ... and I was glad to turn them in on Friday.

If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.
I am judging in the Carol contest again this year ... so far a couple of books have had that effect on me.

They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about spiritual drought--I appreciated everyone's feedback. Things are a little better.

Forever is composed of nows.
Jolene used to say the best advice I gave her was "seize the day." I woke her up at midnight on Millenium Eve--how few people in all of history have experienced it! Dickinson captured the same thought, in words of poetry.

And thinking of Jolene, and Mom, how about--Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell.

Old age comes on suddenly, and not gradually as is thought.
I am aged before my years. I find myself turning into my mother. This week I had a ramp installed at the house so I no longer have to fear the stairs.

And for a final thought ... as beautiful a statement of purpose as I have ever read ... consider the poet's words: If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain

Happy May Day.