Sunday, March 3, 2013

Smiles, Memories, and Grandmothers

"A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood." (Charlotte Davis Kasl)
My book, Scent of Lilacs, was released for the second time March 1 and I'm celebrating. Scent of Lilacs was my first novel published in the Christian market. I'd published thirteen books in the general market, two historical romances and eleven young adult books, but I'd hit a dry spell in my writing before I decided to explore my own background as a setting for story. I came up with a fictional family living in a small rural town modeled after the town where I grew up. I let a lot of the story be told through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Jocie. It's her story, but it's also the town's story. Small Town, America in the Sixties.
I enjoy celebrating a new release by giving away things and if you read my last post you know I decided to give away a lilac colored Grandmother's Bible because of those lilacs in my story. And to make it more fun for all of us, I invited you to tell me a grandmother story when you sent in your contest entry. A story isn't necessary to enter. (You can still enter just by sending me an e-mail from my website or leaving a comment here with a way to reach you. Deadline for entries is midnight EST April 1.) But the stories you readers share with me are always wonderful. Some are touching. Some are amusing. All are interesting. Some of you don't have memories of your grandmothers, but you're having fun being a grandmother. That's good too. The picture is of my grandmother and her sisters. I don't remember this grandmother, my father's mother. She died when I was very young. I think, but I'm not positive, that she is the one on the right on the bottom row. So I don't have memories of her. My older sister does. She was much loved by this grandmother.
That's what comes across in most of your stories. How loved you were by your grandmothers. How much you cherish the memories of time spent with them. And sometimes how much they made you smile. That's where we're going with the memories in this post. To the smiling times.
Most grandchildren love the stories their grandmothers tell me. Mine certainly do. Carla's grandmother taught her the value of telling a good story. Here's what she says,
"My grandmother mostly raised me and there is no one quite like her in this world. When I was a child my grandmother was a great storyteller - she added sound and adventure, included herself, me, or other family members (that is also how she would sing songs, putting names in them). I was in second grade when the teacher asked about our family history - where I raised my hand, told the greatest adventure about covered wagons, Indians attacking, circling the wagons, using guns - pow, pow. When I was done everyone was mesmerized - but this is a story I have heard a thousand times before. Later, the teacher called the house explaining how amazing the adventure was and what a great story - whereas my grandmother laughed, this was just a story but apparently I told it right."
That's the kind of stories I need to be telling. :)
Jim shares this story about a shirt his grandmother made for him.
Granny sewed a lot when I was young and one Christmas I was the receiver of her talent. There was just one problem. She sewed mostly for girls and the shirt she made for me buttoned the wrong way. I was too young to know better so I wore that shirt until it was way too small and then one of my sisters got it.
See, Jim, your granny was just thinking ahead to passing down that shirt.
Last is a story N. sent me. It presented such a wonderful picture of a woman who celebrated life that I asked her if I could share it with you. When she wrote back to say I could, she added a little information to make the story even more meaningful . Here's what N. says.
    "I have countless 'Granny' stories as I was raised by my maternal grandma! This one came to mind because of the lilacs...She loved flowers!
    I recall being on the North Sea coast and that particular Summer, a swarm of lady bugs arrived on the pier. People were stunned and were swiping them off but not Granny. Only barely 5 feet tall, happy to be back in her hometown and wearing the most beautiful flower print skirt, she stood, arms askew, covered with lady bugs and just smiled...and said: 'Is it not grand to be alive?'
   I never forgot the sight, neither did others as people stood there just smiling at her! Her happiness was very contagious I imagine!"
Now for, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story.  When N.'s grandmother was in the third grade, the Germans marched on her hometown, removed her from school and forced marched her with other coastal residents to a town 26 miles away. N. says her grandmother survived two wars and many hardships but LOVED life!
Thank you for sharing your stories with me and I hope you're are enjoying the ones I'm passing along. I have more to share in future posts - some that made me smile and some they brought tears to my eyes. Grandmothers and memories just seem to go together. And since so much of the background for Scent of Lilacs came from my memories, this contest fit the book even better than I at first imagined.
Thanks for reading and don't forget that Jocie is going to announce my blog contest winners tomorrow night on her Hollyhill Book of the Strange post. Thank all of you for your comments this month. It's been fun.


  1. When I was little I had one Gramma that lived with us,( lucky me,) and she would take us on trips on the bus or train, to visit relatives. One time she took my sister and I on a trip to go aboard the ferry that went from Digby, Nova Scotia, to St. John New Brunswick, as my Aunt was travelling home, That ferry was so big, or it was to two, little girls. She was a diamond in the sand,and I remember thinking when she passed on,whatever would my Mother do without her.Her memories always keep her near.

    1. Thanks for sharing about your trips with your Gramma, Sylvia. Isn't it great how relatives can expand our world. A diamond in the sand - I love that description of your grandmother.

  2. What a sweet post, Ann. My paternal grandmother died before I was born. They were a musical family. What fun that would have been! My mother died a month before I was six. We moved away when my dad remarried when I was nine. I saw my maternal grandmother when I was visiting when I was seventeen. For my high school graduation gift, she sent me a pale green crystal necklace that had been my mother's.
    Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

    1. Hi, Kathleen. You know even when you don't actually get to know your grandparents, somehow they pass things down to you. And I'm sure your mother's mother would have loved to have been closer to you if that had been possible. So sad to lose your mother at such a young age.

      Guess what? You are one of my three blog winners of an autographed copy of Scent of Lilacs. I'll contact you by e-mail. Jocie's going to announce the winners on her blog, tonight. But thought I'd jump ahead of her since you are here with this new comment. I'll enter you in the website giveaway too.

    2. Thank you so much. I'll go over and thank Jocie too! I am sending back a reply to your e-mail. And yes, I got my sense of humor somewhere!! Kathleen

  3. My grandmother was incredible. I miss her even though she's been gone 40 years. I still dream about her and there are days I'd want to feel her arms around me one more time. I'd love to read your book! penguinns [at] gmail [dot] com.

    1. Thanks, Becky, for letting us know how much you loved your grandmother. Isn't it wonderful to have that forever love?

      I'll enter you in my website giveaway. Thanks.


    1. Got you entered, Shelley. Hope reading about the grandmothers made you smile and remember your sweet grandmother.

  5. Thank you for the wonderful blog


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