Thursday 1st March 2018
As I write this on the last day of February (yes, I'll be on time with my BLOG this month!) it is snowing- the British have named these past 3 days of cold temperatures and snowfalls the 'Beast from the East' and where I live we've had an accumulation of about 5". I grew up in snow—in the aptly named town of Geneva, in New York State, where snowfalls were often marked in feet. And for most of my life I've lived in states that had snowy winters—New York, Ohio, Minnesota, Washington, and Maine. So there's not a lot you can tell me about snow I don't already know. While snow in March is not something most folks look forward to, (the warmer temps often make the snow heavy and wet; not fun to shovel!) it does make the transition to spring even more dramatic. A crocus or daffodil bursting through the snow, refusing to give in to the cold, answering the call of nature and emerging from its bulb is amazing and theatrical. Nature's show once again symbolizing hope; out of the cold and dead of winter, something beautiful has come alive.
One month ago, my dear father-in-law Larry passed away in his sleep. He was 95 and he had told his loved ones he was ready to 'go home'. He had what many folk refer to as a 'good ending'. To have passed Larry in the street, you wouldn't be wrong in thinking he was a handsome, polite, elderly gentleman. But as my husband assembled the details of his father's life into a eulogy, we soon realized that while first impressions of Larry were correct, you would need to add that he was brave, creative, resilient, adaptable, intelligent, romantic, fun-loving, athletic, independent, and humorous. Larry appeared to be an ordinary man, but he was anything but as he repeatedly answered the call of life to do extraordinary things.
I realize that when I write, Larry is exactly the type of person who exemplifies the heroes/heroines in my books—ordinary folk called upon to do the extraordinary, rising to the occasion life presented them. (And I do tend to put my characters through the paces.) Larry inspires me and I know part of his story will no doubt become part of my stories.
It was Alexander Pope who wrote hope springs eternal in his poem 'An Essay on Man': people tend to hope for the best, even in the face of adversity. Larry, born between two world wars, bravely participating in the second one, coming home to a broken country, did not just exist through it all, but hoped to thrive—and he did. A tight case of nutrient-packed leaves sits below ground, cold and dark, until its biological clock causes the bulb to burst and unfold as a daffodil or crocus; the plant hopes to thrive. I think these are two examples, dissimilar as they are, of hope springs eternal.
When a story starts to percolate in my head, the ending is always in sight. And it has got to be 'a good ending'. They must always gravitate in the direction of my inner compass—they must always, in the end, point to hope.