Two Years

October 24. It’s been two years. Will I keep sharing this tribute every year on my blog on this date?

Honestly, I have no idea. But right now, this year, it is on my heart to do so.

And so I will.

She went out accompanied by a blaze of northern lights, some of the most brilliant seen around here in ages. Heaven welcoming a gallant soul home with fanfare.

Even after her breathing had slowed drastically, her heart remained strong until the end. We always knew her heart was bigger and stronger than most.

Her humor was one of the last things to go when the Alzheimer’s took over. Even when she was in the nursing home and couldn’t even recognize Grandpa, she would try to tease the nurses and aids. They all loved her.

They were married for sixty years. Two days before she finally died, I sat and watched him hold her hand as he told us the only reason he underwent chemo and fought so hard for life through the blood clots last year was so that he could take care of her, make sure her ending was peaceful and dignified, so that he could take care of her to the end. None of his kids could speak at that point, so I managed to choke out that he had done a wonderful job of it. They were an example to us all.

Of eight kids, six managed to make it home to say goodbye, only the one in Australia and the one in Arizona not able to get back. Fully half of the grandkids were able to come. No one fought, no one argued, no one tried to make things difficult for anyone else. Everyone acted as selflessly as human beings can act. Another testimony to the love and respect everyone had for her.

The hospital nurses teared up when their weekend shift ended, knowing they wouldn’t see her again alive.

There was as much laughter as tears around her bedside, as stories were shared and memories were dredged up and old jokes revived. Her fifteen-year-old grandson played his guitar, everyone sang, and her last days were filled with the music and laughter she loved so well.

She has been gone for a long time. Twelve years ago was when she was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, at that point too far advanced to do anything but watch and pray as it slowly disintegrated the woman we all knew. The pneumonia that took her tonight was a release from that living death (twelve years is phenomenally long for Alzheimer’s sufferers – most don’t live more than five years), and our tears were as much joy for her as sorrow.

She is whole again now. She is free. She is rejoicing and laughing with her Lord.

It hurts, still, but this is a clean hurt, one that will heal. The pain of the Alzheimer’s never went away; it would lie dormant for a time, but it was always there lurking in the background. This – already there is a peace growing from the sorrow.

We will miss her. We have missed her for years. But her legacy – the love, the laughter, the strength and faith and joy – she passed that on, not only to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but to all who knew her. I am proud to call myself her granddaughter, and you can be sure my girls will grow up knowing about what an amazing woman their great-grandmother was.

Rest in Peace? Maybe. Personally, I suspect she is singing and dancing right now.

And laughing.

I am at peace today. That “clean hurt” I spoke of then, that I knew would heal? It’s healed. I miss her, yes. But I don’t flinch every time somebody mentions the word “grandma” anymore.

The sun is shining through the leaves this morning, scattering bits of gold and red across my window. I woke up early enough to get some writing in first thing this morning. Last night I finished Joy’s birthday skirt, and will start on the matching top today.

It’s a good day. It really is.

Autumn Glories

I love this season. When I was younger, I loved winter (skating, sledding, skiing, hot cocoa and cozy sweaters) and summer (swimming, berry-picking, berry-eating, sunny day dreaming) the best. The older I get, the more I appreciate the moderate seasons. I’m not even going to try to psycho-analyze that – it doesn’t take a genius!

I do find myself craving spring after just a little bit of winter now, and craving autumn a short way into summer. I miss the light more than anything in winter, but I don’t handle the extreme heat of summer well. AT ALL.

This autumn has been a little bit warmer than my ideal. BUT it’s still been glorious.

Outside the local library

Outside the local library

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Enjoying a weekend hike to finish up Carl's Reading Week

Enjoying a weekend hike to finish up Carl’s Reading Week

I wish I could have captured the sun-reflecting-on-water-reflecting-off-leaves in this picture.

I wish I could have captured the sun-reflecting-on-water-reflecting-off-leaves in this picture.

See?

Glorious.

What’s your favorite season?

Getting My Groove On

Not exactly like this. Less leather pants, for one thing.

But I am slowly starting to get back into the groove of writing Wings of Song. It’s been tricky to switch from fantasy to everyday life stories, especially when my previous fantasy was so rooted in the real world. I kind of want to have dryads peeking out from around every corner and fauns popping in for tea with my ten-year-old protagonist. Which would be a lovely story! Just not this one that I’m telling right now.

It’s been tricky shifting my writing style again, too. Wings of Song is written in a very different style from Magic Most Deadly. I liken the type of story it is to LM Montgomery and Maud Hart Lovelace, Susan Coolidge and Miss Read. But it is really, really hard to write a story in that style without turning it treacly or preachy or just plain dull. All those writers? Geniuses. Me? Juuuust starting to really spread my writing wings and fly.

So it’s been hard, but it’s coming. My one character most given to pretentiousness and sententiousness I have made fully aware of his tendencies, and have given him a younger brother always cheerfully ready to wallop him when necessary to keep him from being a prig. I am stashing any fantasy ideas in a different notebook, ready to use in a different story in the future, possibly, but not interfering with this one. I’m trying to read more old-fashioned, “everyday” fiction to get a better feel for writing hopeful, fun stories without them turning soppy.

Above all, I’m just writing.

And in the end, that’s the important part.

(And I’m occasionally watching Kurt Browning in leather pants.)

Things Learned

Important news out of the way first:

Magic Most Deadly is now available through Nook, and the paperback version is available through Amazon. iTunes has proven … challenging, so I’m still working on that.

The Goodreads giveaway is still going – it’s open until the 10th, so go enter if you haven’t done so yet!

If anyone would like an autographed bookplate for Magic Most Deadly, just send me an email with your name and address, and I’ll send one to you, free of charge. If you want to send me your actual physical copy of the book to autograph, I’ll do that, too, but I’ll have to ask you to pay for the shipping on that.

So then! There’s the housekeeping done (if only real housekeeping could get taken care of that easily).

My first week of being a “Real Author” with a “Real Published Novel” has passed, and I’ve learned some important things.

1) I don’t like self-publishing for the sake of self-publishing. By which I mean, I understand and appreciate what self-publishing allows me to do. I do not like messing about with figuring out formatting, hunting for a cover designer (even when I find a good one!), uploading the book to each seller, marketing myself, etc.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those things. I just get frustrated with the time doing them well takes away from actual writing. I don’t have a whole lot of time to devote to writing as it is (okay, and I do waste some of it just because I am SO TIRED these days and so much of my free time is spent on cat naps or comfort reading), and I get twitchy when I have to sacrifice my writing time to business time.

It is a business, and I get that. I’m not complaining. But I felt it was a rather important discovery for myself – that I do the self-publishing because it is the best choice for me right now, but I don’t have to love it. I love what it does for me. I’m not crazy about the process. And that’s okay.

One of the other things I’ve learned is that even being a published author doesn’t change a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. Dishes still had to get washed, laundry still had to be done, schoolwork taken care of, meals made, friends visited with, insomnia dealt with, life lived.

On the other hand, accomplishing a goal you’ve held since second grade is pretty damn awesome even if it isn’t earth-shattering, and I’m not gonna lie. Last Monday, I felt more like a rock star than I ever have and likely ever will again.

(Unless my fairy godmother suddenly gives me the ability to skate at the level I’ve always dreamed of, and I get to join Stars on Ice. And Scott Hamilton, Kurt Browning, Torvill & Dean, and Kristi Yamaguchi are all in it again as well. So yeah, not likely to happen.)

The only other matter of interest from this week is that I finally broke down and joined Instagram. Yippee! I’m trying not to go too crazy with it.

How was this first week of October for all of you, friends?