For the month of December, the e-book of Fireflies in December is available for only 99 cents! It's a great way to get started on the series yourself or to introduce it to someone else. Click here to find a list of retailers.
It's been a while since we've had a visit with Jessilyn and Gemma, and it seemed like a good time to take us back to Calloway County. In this new short story (48 pages on Kindle), Jessilyn has a difficult meeting with someone from her past-someone who deeply affected her life and the lives of those closest to her. Will this mysterious reappearing reignite the bitter trials of the past, or will it bring a surprising hope for the future? Find out in Magnolia Spring.
It's been a while since I've had a visit with Jessilyn and Gemma. What better time of year to do that than the Christmas season? And who better to share it with than the loyal readers who have made this writing journey of mine so incredibly special?
Wishing you and your loved ones a beautiful time of celebration and a blessed new year ahead.
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
A Calloway Christmas
Any time of the year I can’t go
barefoot makes me cranky. Anybody who knows me knows that. Winter in the south
may not be much to speak of to folks up north, but when creaky wooden floors
send shivers through my toes I know I’m getting ready for a long haul.
Miss Cleta remedied that every
December by knitting me a pair of socks so warm you could hatch an egg in them,
but no amount of warmth could keep me from sliding across a bare patch of floor
practically every time I slipped my feet into them. Woolen yarn does nothing
for traction. You can ask Luke about that.It’s a good thing he’s handy because he’s had to fix a thing or ten I’d
taken out coming around a corner too fast.
“Jessie, ain’t you never heard of
walkin’ indoors ‘stead of runnin’?” He’d asked me that a hundred times in the
nearly two years I’d spent as his wife.
And my reply was always the same. “I
waited so long for you to come around, I ain’t got patience left to mosey
But this year was different. This
year I had a little extra Christmas gift taking up residence in my tummy, and
there was no way on God’s green earth I was sticking my feet in those pink and
blue death traps Miss Cleta had gifted me this time around.
I was sitting on the sofa marveling
at how perfectly they were knitted together by hands so worn by time when the
front door opened followed by a shout.
“I’m in the den.” I tossed the
socks onto the footstool and smiled as the pitter-patter of little feet sounded
around the corner. “Hey there, baby girl.” I grabbed Gemma’s toddler and kissed
the top of her head. Opal climbed clumsily up beside me, but I pulled her into
my lap. “Let’s make some room for Momma.”
Gemma stood at the doorway, laid
eyes on the footstool, and clucked her tongue. “Miss Cleta tryin’ to kill you
My foot crept over and nudged the
slippers in her direction. “Wanna have some fun? You can have ‘em.”
She shook her head and plopped down
beside me. “No thank you. I like to stay on my feet.” A bit of curl fell over
her forehead when she nodded in my direction. “Don’t let that littl’un squash
you. There’s a head in that area somewhere.”
“She’s fine.” I turned her over and
gave her ribs a tickle. There’s nothing like hearing that child laugh. “Opal won’t
squash Aunt Jessie, will she?” Gemma rolled her eyes at my sloppy tone. She
didn’t believe in baby talk. Neither did I when it came down to it, but every
time I laid eyes on those chubby cheeks, that baby voice just popped on out.
“Course you won’t squash her. No. You love Aunt Jessie too much to squash her.”
“You feelin’ okay?”
“You call livin’ off crackers and
tea okay, then I’m doin’ just fine.” Opal stuck a foot in my thigh trying to stand
up and see outside the window behind me. Her momma saw my wince and swept her
off my lap.
“Child, you’re gonna stomp on your
cousin so much he’ll whack you the first chance he gets after he enters this
world. Gonna be bad enough with your bossy self tellin’ him what to do all the
“Well, she’s your momma’s namesake.
She knew how to tell us what to do, sure enough. And what’s all this ‘he’ and
‘him’ stuff? You got wind of news I didn’t?”
“Gut feelin’.” She set Opal down
beside me, wandered over to the mantel and fingered the silver filigree
surrounding my grandparents photograph.
There was a certain something
hanging in the air, and I knew this was more than just a social call. But Gemma
says what Gemma’s ready to say when Gemma’s ready to say it. I knew that good
and well. I continued to shower Opal with all sorts of sloppy nonsense,
glancing at her momma every now and again, until I could tell by the set of
Gemma’s shoulders that she was ready to speak her piece.
She turned and leveled a determined
glance in my direction. “I want the box.”
Now, nobody outside of our family
would have a bit of an idea what she was talking about. The world holds
millions of boxes full of all sorts of things that don’t matter much, but in
our family there’s only one box.
My throat constricted so tightly it
took me two swallows to ask my next question, and it wasn’t much of a question
to speak of. “What’s that you said?”
“I want it.”
“But nothin’. It’s been long
enough. I got a husband and a child, and nothin’ to tell them about our family.
It’s time to face up to the past so my child someday gets to know she’s even
“Did you ask Daddy?”
She just shook her head.
“Want me to do it for you?”
This time I got a nod.
Another nod. That was about the
best I could expect considering the topic of conversation.
I laid a shaky hand on Opal’s head,
and then headed to the kitchen where I picked up the phone, waited till there
was an answer, murmured a few words, and then returned to Gemma’s side, sliding
an arm around her shoulders. “He’ll be over soon. I’ll make some tea.”
“Coffee’d be better.”
She followed me into the kitchen
with Opal in tow and sat down at the table Luke had made out of Mr. Poe’s
cottonwood tree after a windstorm took it down in 1939. There wasn’t much noise
in the room while that percolator did its job; not unless you count my
fingernails doing a tap dance on the countertop. By the time I’d poured two
cups, I was about ready to jump out of my skin. My mind was bursting with
questions and holding my tongue had never been a strong suit, but I’d learned a
thing or two as I’d grown older, and how to keep silent when necessary was one
of them (though Luke would maybe tell a different story).
I’d stirred the life out of my
coffee by the time she opened her mouth. The unexpected sound of her voice made
me jump, sending a slosh of ebony liquid onto my saucer and down the side of
it. I started to wipe it up with a nearby dish towel, but she stilled my hand
with one of her own.
“I’ll be fine, Jessie. Promise.”
“You sure about that?”
“I ever lie to you?”
I leaned back in my chair and
twisted that dish towel up into two tight knots. “Lyin’ about somethin’ and
guessin’ at somethin’ you ain’t sure of are two different things.”
“It’s the right time, is all.
They’ve been gone a long time now. Pain like that don’t go away, no doubt, but
it hurts less and less with each new year. And I want to know more… not just
for Tal and Opal. For me, too.”
A knock on the door followed the sound
of Daddy’s boots crossing the porch. His hat was tipped over his eyes when he
cracked the door open and peered cautiously into the kitchen. “You girls okay
Gemma slipped out of her chair and
traded Opal for the box in his hands. “I’ll be fine in a little while.”
Daddy laid his hat on the
countertop and leaned down to kiss Opal’s cheek. “Grandad’s on duty. Y’all take
Before I knew it my hand was
clasped up tight in Gemma’s, and I was dragged unceremoniously out of my chair
and into the bedroom. I closed the door tight and leaned on it for a few
seconds before taking a seat on the bed next to her. One of Luke’s boots peeked
out from under the bed, and I gave it a swift kick before lifting my legs up
and crossing them like they were lucky fingers. I figured we could use all the
good fortune we could get.
We stared at the package on the bed
between us as though it belonged to Pandora. In a way, maybe it held the same
mythical power to change the world as we knew it… and not so much for the
better. For in that box, weathered with age and smelling of mothballs, sat the
only items that had escaped the ashes of Gemma’s house the day she lost her
parents and I gained a sister.
For all those years past Gemma had
refused to even hear of looking inside it. There’s a sort of pain I didn’t know
of that I could see in Gemma’s haunted eyes at times… a pain I hoped I’d never
know. And it was for that reason I never pushed her to face what lay inside.
Momma and Daddy had asked her once and only once, and after that Daddy toted it
up to the attic, placed it gently in its own special place, and never spoke of
Until this day.
I sat there in that cross-legged
position until my legs cramped up so much I started to wish I didn’t even have
them anymore, but the way it felt in that room just then it almost seemed wrong
to breathe much less to move.
Then, all of a sudden, Gemma’s hand
shot out like a scared rabbit and pulled the lid from the box.
A scatter of photographs lay on
top, still smelling of the char that crisped the corners. I don’t think that
smell ever goes away. Or maybe the memory of that day got so stuck in my head I
remember the smell more than sniff it up. Doesn’t matter so much because any
which way there’s something about smells that make memories come alive, and
that smell of smoke and soot transported me right back to that night in the
truck watching my daddy’s lips form the syllables that told the awful truth; to
the moment I wrapped that blanket around Gemma to help with the shakes that
came more from terror than cold.
I could see by the way Gemma’s face
creased that the smell did the same for her.
But if life’s taught me anything
about my Gemma it’s that no amount of this crazy life can take the tough out of
her. She’s just plain old built of strong stock. She sifted through those few
images atop the box and gently lifted one out. I recognized it right off even
all these years later. That fragile photograph had kept its place atop the
mantel in the Teague household from the time I could remember. The smiles her
parents held on their wedding day told a short but compelling tale of the many
ways they cared for one another.
When I was young, I read books like
most people breathe, living my life through tales of mystery and mayhem in
between chores and school. My favorites were the tragedies; the heartbreaking,
gut-wrenching tales of love and loss. But those ideas changed the day that sort
of tragedy became all too real to me. I found out overnight that those sorts of
stories are only exciting when there are numbers printed at the bottom of the
While I watched Gemma gaze at the
smiling faces of her parents I wished more than anything that I could simply
turn the page and make it all disappear. But life had put the bookmark in place
and no matter how hard we hoped nothing and nobody could take it out again.
Gemma used her sleeve to wipe the
salty tears away from her eyes and then set the photo aside, running one finger
across the top as though she could feel their skin on hers. One by one she
filtered through the last few remnants that remained inside, placing them aside
with honor and reverence resting on her fingertips.
All that was left of Gemma’s past
was neatly contained in a ten-by-twelve inch box.
It doesn’t take long to walk
through bits and pieces of someone’s long ago, but it takes even less time for
the sadness to set in. I was pretty sure it would take us days to shake that
off. Gemma had set each piece of memorabilia on the bedspread, and when she was
through she waved one hand at it all and shook her head.
“My daddy lived for forty years, Momma
for thirty-seven, and ain’t nothin’ left to tell of themselves but a handful of
photos, a jeweled brooch, two wedding rings, a coffee cup, and Daddy’s pipe.”
Her voice cracked on that last one. If a girl’s got a daddy worth remembering,
there’s nothing like his pipe to take her back there. Don’t ask me why. It’s
I picked up her Momma’s brooch and
examined it, mostly so I wouldn’t have to look Gemma in the eye. “Daddy says
they scrambled to get a few things out for you to remember by. The front room
was the last to go, and that’s where the pictures were. Got ‘em out in the nick
of time. The coffee cup and the jewelry… they just managed to make it out okay
Gemma nodded, leaned back on my
pillow, crossed her wrists over her face and sighed one of those broken sighs
that sounds like heartache slowly leaking out of a body’s soul. She stayed
quiet for a few minutes while I quietly placed her fragmented past back into
the box, and then she sighed again before sitting up sharply. Her whole body
spoke of determination. If you could take someone brushing their hands together
in one of those that’s all there is to it
ways and make it into an attitude, you’d have Gemma just then. Before you could
blink she’d switched gears from tragic melancholy to workaday complacency.
“Best get on home,” she said, like
we’d just spent the past half hour talking about compost heaps. “Got laundry
stacked a mile high.”
“Gemma Teague Pritchett, you do
“Ain’t no use whinin’ over spilt
“What’s expected of you ain’t
whinin’.” I pointed to the box and finished, “And this ain’t spilt milk.”
She squeezed that space between
your eyes where sadness always seems to settle in and cause a headache. “I
know. I know that, I do. It’s just… there ain’t no use in gettin’ worked up
over somethin’ I can’t change. Later tonight maybe I’ll fill buckets, but right
now I’m… confused, is all. I’d hoped to find more, and I don’t even know how I
feel about anything yet.”
“Oh, Gemma. I know. They tried to
collect what they could.”
“And I know that.” She sat down
next to me and squeezed my hand tight. I know your daddy and Luke tried to do
their best for me. Always have. Always will. But all these longings I’ve had
lately about knowin’ more about me, about where I come from… those longings
still don’t have answers. And no amount of worry or grief over it will change
“That don’t mean you don’t feel
anything. No good keepin’ things bottled up, and you know it.”
“You’re right, I do. But for now…
just now I’ve got a lot of things goin’ through my mind, and I reckon I don’t
feel much like talkin’ about it.”
Gemma and Opal left with Daddy and
I on the front steps watching them go. Daddy had offered her a ride, but she
said she needed the walk, and in my mind you don’t argue with a girl like Gemma
when she says she needs to walk it off. That’s her way of saying she needs time
to talk things over with God, and I well knew what some of that conversation
would sound like. She was going to need every bit of the time that walk home
Miss Cleta was feeling her oats
that morning after I’d watched Gemma wander off lost in her thoughts. I could
hear her complaining to herself as soon as I reached her front door.
“Jessilyn, just look at my
poinsettia,” she complained the second she laid eyes on me. “Now you come on in
and just take a look.”
I followed her inside and grimaced
at the sorry state the once vibrant plant was in. “What on earth…”
“Imogene Packard’s Christmas punch,
that’s what on earth! Christmas poison
is more like it. Lands’ sakes alive, that woman means to kill the whole county
with that infernal concoction.”
“How’d Imogene Packard’s Christmas
punch get into your poinsettia plant?”
“Dang woman brought some over yesterday.
Who in tarnation does a thing like that? You ever brought punch to someone’s
I didn’t even get a chance to
finish one shake of the head before she continued.
“Course not. Nobody with a lick of
sense does something as hairbrained as that. But that woman’s got to bring it
to my door because she’s bound and determined it’s the best punch this side of
the Mason Dixon and has to share it so everyone will tell her what a wonder she
“I poured it there!”
“Well, I wasn’t goin’ to drink it,
now was I? And she never left me alone for two seconds, so my only choice was
to dump it in the plant when she went fishin’ in her purse for her
handkerchief. Heavens, if it hadn’t been for that tickle in her throat I’d still
be standin’ here with the punch in my hand tryin’ to figure out a good excuse
for not drinkin’ it.”
“Leastways your poinsettia would
still be with us.”
The whack that landed on my arm
belied her age, but there was a smile on both our faces when I gave it a rub.
“Child, there ever a day you ain’t
full of vinegar?”
“Ever a day you ain’t?”
“Reckon not.” She waved me into the
dining room and pushed a plate of freshly baked gingerbread cookies in my
direction. “Have a sweet and tell me what’s on your mind. I can see by the look
on your face you ain’t here just to chat about Imogene Packard’s murder
contract on Calloway.”
“No ma’am, I ain’t.” I slid into a
chair and broke the head off a gingerbread boy. “You figure on knowin’ anything
about Gemma’s momma and daddy?”
“Like who they came from. Their
family. Their past.”
“Honey, those two dear people came
here from unhappy times, but I never knew what those unhappy times were. To be
truthful to you, we didn’t have cause to mix much until they started workin’
for your momma and daddy. They’d be more likely to know somethin’ than I
I took a sip of the sweet tea she’d
poured for me. “They don’t know much.”
“Well, why the sudden interest?”
“It ain’t mine, it’s Gemma’s. She
has a hankerin’ to know more about her past so’s she can tell Opal what she
came from. And if you ask me, she wants somethin’ for herself that’ll tell her
what she didn’t have time to learn. She didn’t get much time with her momma and
daddy, definitely not enough time to know a whole lot about them.”
Miss Cleta shook her head slowly.
“Poor child. I remember the day she told me they’d died knowin’ full well I
knew all about it, but just havin’ to make those words form on her own lips to
make sure she knew it for herself. Ain’t much troubles that weigh on a body
more than all the things you wished you’d said and done after a sudden
goodbye.” She slipped out of her chair as gently as her weathered bones would
let her and dug around in a kitchen drawer. Then she returned to her chair and
placed a photo beside my plate.
“It’s me and Gemma.” I smiled and
wiped my hands on a cloth napkin before picking the image up to examine it more
closely. “Nothin’ but little snips in this one. I’m maybe about
“Four. And just as spunky as ever.
Always gettin’ into some sort of mishap. But let me tell you, Gemma was always
followin’ along behind to make sure to get you out of it.”
“Things ain’t changed much.”
Miss Cleta laughed and gave me a kick
beneath the table. “Reckon not. Some things never change when they should and
some things never change when they shouldn’t. This is the good kind of not
changin’. Oh, you two have grown into fine young ladies and learned all sorts
of things about life, but when it comes down to it you two are more sisters
than any other two folks I’ve ever laid eyes on, no matter you don’t share
blood or skin color. Sometimes in life, there are things that matter far more
than what stock you come from. It’s who you are and why you are that’s
important, and I think we all know what that means for you and Gemma. God
couldn’t have knit you two together more tightly if He’d had you come out of
the same womb.”
I’d known this lady my whole life,
and I can’t count the times she’s given me a sweet and told me a story or two
with some morals tucked inside. But I also can’t count the times she made me
choke on one of her treats by bringing tears to my eyes. This time was no
exception. I took a couple gulps of tea to help the cookie down and blinked
“You do beat all, Miss Cleta. Some
day you’re gonna kill me by sharin’ wisdom right while I’m tryin’ to swallow.
And you talk about Imogene Packard…”
“Can’t help it when my wisdom
decides to come out. Has a mind of its own. So do you for that matter. Maybe
you best get that mind of your own churnin’. It’ll come up with the answer for
what ails Gemma.”
As usual, Miss Cleta was right. I
grabbed a cookie for the road, thanked her up one side and down the other, and
headed off down the road to the house Gemma and I had spent so much of that
growing up time in.
Momma was putting the finishing
touches on some gift wrapping when I walked in. “Good heavens, Jessilyn, it’s a
fine thing you didn’t come a few minutes earlier while I was doin’ up one of
“I never was very good at waitin’
“Well, you’re waitin’ for this
one.” She tugged hard at the bow loops and pushed the package beneath the
Christmas tree, then wrapped me up in her arms just like the paper on that
gift. “You feelin’ okay? You’ve got more color than the other day.”
“Much better, Momma. But now I’ve
got somethin’ on my mind that helps. Can I get up in the attic?”
Momma cocked her head sideways.
“It’s cold and damp up there, girl. You don’t need to be climbin’ around there
in your condition.”
“I won’t be long, I promise. I know
exactly what I need.”
“Well, then why don’t you tell me
what it is, and I’ll get it?”
“Because you don’t need to go
climbin’ around up there, neither.”
She put one hand on her hip just
like she used to when she threatened to whack my bottom with her wooden kitchen
spoon. “Jessilyn, I got me just as much life left in my bones as ever. Don’t
you go sayin’ I’m old.”
“I ain’t sayin’ you’re old, and you
know it. Come on and climb up that ladder if you want to.”
We didn’t stop bickering about who
would go up in the attic and how old folks were until we’d both been up and
down that ladder with dusty items in our hands. Mommas and daughters may
someday become friends, but daughters are still daughters and mommas are still
mommas. I know we could bicker about a thing or two, but no matter how old I
got and how much of a friend Momma got to be, I still knew right deep down
where it counted that this woman was someone who had earned my honor and
respect. Same thing was true about my daddy. And as I left the house that day
with my treasures I stopped on the sidewalk and whispered my thanks for those
two who had brought me through thick and thin without killing me first.
By the time Luke came home from his
woodworking shop that afternoon I was knee deep in photos and family history. I
heard him kick off his boots at the back door, stop at the bathroom to wash up,
and then I leaned back into his grasp when he settled down on the floor beside me.
“What’re you doin’ down here? You
wearin’ Miss Cleta’s socks again?”
I gave his ribs a shove with my
elbow. “I’m workin’ is what I’m doin’ down here.”
“On Gemma’s Christmas gift.”
He watched me flip through the
pages of a worn photo album and then kissed my head and stood up beside me.
“I’ll let you work then and go look at the paper.”
“Don’t get too cozy. I got work for
He sighed and slid back down beside
me. “Woman, you’ve always got work for me to do,” he muttered in that voice of
his that’s more like a wink than anything else. “Every time I turn around it’s
work, work, work. When I die young, you make sure my tombstone says I worked
till the day I died.”
“I’ll do that.” I picked up a
pencil and a pad of paper and started to sketch out the rough idea I had in my
head. And by rough, I mostly mean the way my drawing looked. We all have our
given talents. Art is not one of mine. But I knew if anyone could understand my
scribblings it was one of the few people who could climb inside my head and
heart like he could.
By the time Christmas Eve arrived, we’d spent
enough time together on that project to have gotten to know each other all over
again ten times, but it was worth every second. We were agreed upon that.
I was snuggled up close to Luke on
Momma and Daddy’s sofa, mostly because if he didn’t keep his arm around me
tight I squirmed like a five-year-old, anxious for Gemma to get around to
opening a box that didn’t hold bad memories for her. We’d let Opal go first, of
course, but after she’d finished Gemma looked at my face and read it like a
grocery list. “Reckon I’d better go next before Jessie’s head bursts.”
“It’s my heart that’s doin’ the
burstin’, but you’re right about the rest. Hurry up and open it.”
I’ll swear to my dying day that
girl took extra time unwrapping it just to get under my skin, but by the time
she’d lifted the lid, there was no procrastination when it came to tear
production. She pulled the carved wooden piece from the box and ran her fingers
across the branches Luke had so skillfully worked into the wood.
“It’s a family tree.” I scooted off
the sofa and slid down onto the floor beside her, pointing to the photo behind
the glass Luke had positioned on top. “There’s your great granddaddy and great
grandmomma on Daddy’s side. And there’s the ones on Momma’s side. And it works
all the way down…” I slid my finger from one frame to the next till it landed
on two girls who looked for all the world ready to burst into giggles, and
finished with, “…to us.”
Gemma took my hand in hers and
aimed her glassy eyes my way.
“You’ve got us. Maybe we can’t know
more about your momma and daddy, but they’re always a part of you in your
heart. That won’t never change. But the way I see it, you’ve always been my
family.” I circled her face in the photograph with my finger. “From the day I
can remember.” I pointed to the words Luke had burned into the base of the
tree. “ ‘God couldn’t have knit you two together more tightly if He’d had you
come out of the same womb.’ Those are Miss Cleta’s words. And she’s righter
than anything right in this world if you ask me. So what if we don’t look the
same? We’re the same inside, and that’s what counts.”
Tal took out his handkerchief and
wiped Gemma’s cheeks, but a few tears still found their way to splash gently on
our clasped hands, and at least a couple of those were mine. I looked down at
our skin and smiled. “Our tears are the same color even if our skin isn’t. I
reckon our hearts are the same, too. So if you want to know more about your family,
just look around at us. And look here at this family tree. Cause if there’s any
truth I know of outside of who my God is, it’s that you’re my sister as much as
if you’d come from the same place I did.”
“I reckon you did, after all.”
Daddy said. “Ain’t really people who make people, anyway. We all come from the
same Maker. It’s who He chooses to gift us to that’s different, and we thank
the Lord every day that when you needed a new family, He chose us.”
Gemma laid that family tree in my
arms and climbed over me to grasp my momma and daddy… just like a true sister
There are times you know life is
just where it’s supposed to be. Not much of life is like that. In this world
we’re faced with all sorts of hardships and trials; moments when our spirits feel
out of sorts. We wonder what life holds and remind ourselves sometimes a
hundred times a day that there is One who knows the answers and always has the
best at heart for His children. And every now and again He blesses us with
those moments where everything falls into place and makes sense so we can see
how His hand is at work.
In the years ahead there would be
more ups and downs for us than could fill a dozen novels. There was no way we
could know that in just one short year we would be facing Christmas in a nation
at war. But in that moment our hearts and minds were cushioned from the harsh
realities of the future. In that moment we simply sat in awe of a God who had
not only sent us Gemma but had sent us salvation in the form of His son.
No gift under the tree could ever
surpass that one.
I'm so grateful to be featured on Winterville
First Baptist Church's blog. We're chatting about books, life, writing and inspiration so stop by their blog to check out the interview
and leave a comment there for a chance to win a copy of Fireflies in December!
I wrote this piece several years ago, but it seems the perfect time to post it here. My mother has truly been one of the greatest blessings of my life. So many mothers have been the same to their children, and though I feel I have a special corner on the great mom market, I know there are many other strong, courageous, selfless women out there who have given so much that may have gone unnoticed. Today I encourage you to take a deeper look at the woman you call mom.
On Christmas Eve in our family we
normally allow one another to open a gift of little importance.This is the time to give away socks,
slippers, or other sundry necessities.The special gifts we save for the actual day.
2003 I received something I treasure much more than socks and slippers.I received a piece of my mother’s history
and, consequently, a piece of her heart, in the form of a mother-daughter
journal I had given her two years earlier. Few things accurately portray our
inner selves as do our written thoughts, and that Christmas Eve, when I once upon a time would lie listening for Santa, I sat up
late... reading my mother’s thoughts.
about her faith and her fears, what makes her happy or sad, what her hopes have
been for herself and for me.Because my
mother and I have always been extraordinarily close, I already knew so much
about her, but I marveled as I read.I marveled
at the depth of the human soul, at the many facets of what makes us who we
are.As I read, it struck me how truly
knowing someone takes a lifetime.
who we are as we experience life.I
wasn’t introduced to my mother until her twenty-sixth year.I missed those early years that played such a
role in forming her character and personality.I’d heard the stories and seen the pictures, but I couldn’t truly get
inside her early life until I read her thoughts.
I began to
understand her fears and hopes, her interests and surroundings.I began to understand the formation of her
identity.For a little while, in my mind,
I walked in my mother’s shoes, experiencing her joys, crying her tears.
Her simple answers to common
questions reached deep and revealed a woman whose life and character had formed
through difficult experiences and joyous blessings.I realized then how deeply affected a child
is by their parents and their parents’ history.
I find it
amazing how God uses humans to form other humans.We aren’t made of magic formulas, we don’t
simply happen... we become.In my
becoming, I credit many people and situations; however, my mother has always
played an irreplaceable role.As a
child, I woke up to her tea kettle whistle in the morning and fell asleep to
her story recitations at night.I spent
my days at home with her, listening to her talk on the phone, watching as she
cooked dinner, dusting by her side.I
grew up in her comfortable shadow.
On that Christmas Eve, I understood
even more about who my mother is.The
woman that I know is the child who grew not only through times of joy and
laughter, but also through times of tragedy and dismay.She is the teenager who giggled with her
friends and shed tears of heartache.She
is the young woman who struggled to hold together marriage and family while
providing joy and security to three small children.
everything that life has made her.
And I am
everything that life has made me through her.
I'm a bit of a slow-mover when it comes to social media, and it appears I've waited a little long to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon... but I'm glad I did! It could easily become an addiction, I'll admit, but I've been able to keep myself pretty disciplined about it. And it's proven to be a fun way to interact with readers!
Two of the boards I've created are directly related to my Calloway Summers series of books which include Fireflies in December, Cottonwood Whispers and Catching Moondrops.
One board, "Jessilyn's World," focuses on my view of the setting and characters in the books. I've pinned (and will continue to pin, I'm sure!) photos that let you know how I pictured what I wrote.
The "Calloway Summers Readers' Corner" is an open board for any reader who wishes to participate. It's there that readers can reflect their ideas of the books, bringing a fresh perspective to the people and places of Calloway. As an author, I always love to hear from readers about how they perceived the story. Everyone who picks up the books has the ability to interpret them differently, and it's exciting for me to come at the stories from so many different perspectives.
So if you're a Pinner, come by and check out the boards. If you want to join the Readers' Corner, just follow the board, and I'll add your name to the list of contributors. Or you can always contact me at email@example.com or on Facebook.
In addition to the pinning fun, there's an ongoing contest to see whose pin gets the most likes. Once we get a good bit of participation, I'll be determining a date to give away a signed copy of Catching Moondrops to the pinner who gets the most likes. (A tie-breaker will be decided by a random drawing.)