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The Yellow Dress


If you’ve read either novel in my Knoll Cottage Series, you know I’ve included a bit of mystic. In fact, there may be a ghostie in that sun porch. I do believe there are angels and spirits all around us.
My sister, Pat, died in November.
She was a devout Catholic, and had a magnificent voice. Singing mostly classical religious works was her passion. And she sang in every Catholic Church choir she could.
Pat didn’t worry about my far flung beliefs in many religions. She never doubted me when I told her my cardinal’s message story or other spiritual events in my life. She loved me dearly and I her.
The summer Missing Emily was launched, Pat and her husband came to Cape Cod to attend the book launch party some dear friends gave for me. Pat and I had coordinated our outfits for the party, but it turned out to be a killer hot day. Instead of the lined eyelet dress I’d planned, I wore a deep pink, print sundress. My sister came up the stairs in a bright yellow sleeveless dress. “It was too hot to wear the other one,” she told me. We laughed about both of us changing our minds.
I have a wonderful close-up picture of her in that yellow dress. The expression on her face is pensive, neither happy nor sad. It has an element of listening to something important. Since she was always smiling and laughing, when I saw that intriguing picture, I printed it out and framed it.
Just yesterday, I asked my brother-in-law if I could have that yellow dress. I want to hang it in my closet so she’s with me every day.
And then, this happened.
It was Easter and I hadn’t gone to Mass for some time. Most of our family knew how much Pat loved the church, and wanted us lost souls to return. I couldn’t yet. On the best of days, hymns make me emotional, and I knew if I went to church and heard the music, I would cry. But it was Easter, so my husband and I went to church.
I enjoy watching all the children dressed up in their Easter finery; one little girl with a wide brimmed hat made everyone smile. At one quiet moment, I looked over at a beautiful domestic scene. A Dad was tying the bow on the back of his daughter’s dress. Her dress was bright yellow and sleeveless. Her mother wore a bright yellow, sleeveless dress, also, with a deep pink sweater over her shoulders.
It took me a few seconds to realize, my sister was letting me know she was there. I cried in church!
My Dad died several years ago. I often think of them together in heaven. So you see, the tying of the dress bow was doubly significant.
In case I had any doubt about my sister’s presence, she drove the message home. As we lined up for Communion, two women went before me in bright yellow sweaters. Guess what the female Eucharistic minister was wearing. A bright yellow jacket.
Pat wanted to be sure I got her message. I did dear sister…


A Writer’s Thanks Giving

Bitter Berries

Bitter Berries

It is the beginning of the Happy Holidays. When we eat bad food that tastes good; get together with distant family; go to parties and catch up with friends. Happy. But when bad things happen, these holidays make the pain worse.

I am always so grateful for my writing. I know I share this gratitude with other writers. The work of writing a novel is not about becoming famous, but for the ability to string together an entertaining book. The added gift of telling stories is the control you have over the lives of your characters. I am able to turn a bad diagnosis to a healing; send an abuser to prison for life; allow a poverty-stricken life to change with a lottery win. I’ve even been known to remove a bad person permanently from a good person’s life.

For those who have sorrow or worry on their plate, take heart in this quote from Kahlil Gibran:

“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”

Holiday Hangover

Photo courtesy of Myndi Shafer-Flikr/wanna commons

Photo courtesy of Myndi Shafer-Flikr/wanna commons

Not that kind of hangover! But if you celebrated a holiday/holy day this weekend, you might feel dog tired like the the puppy in the picture! I was fortunate to celebrate Easter with my Mom and Step-dad visiting. We were invited to dinner at my dear friend’s house and all I had to do was cook rice!
Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend–holiday or not!

Season’s Fleeting

1213 Christmas 012

The holidays are a microcosm of the Yin and the Yang of life. At least for me. The season starts with Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. Great food, family and friends, no gifts to buy. This year, one of my friends (now my BFF) insisted on bringing the turkey, stuffing, and gravy to our house. One of the best Thanksgivings ever. But, as I open the pre-made mashed potatoes, the little nag in my head starts: time to get the Christmas letter written; time to buy the cards; time to gather the pictures; time to buy the gifts; time to bake the biscotti. . . .
The day after we overeat turkey, the marathon begins. Everything must be done before we leave for the holiday visit with family. No time for writing the novel, or even thinking about the next book. Forget chatting up the forums; forget attending the meetings. Put the writing magazines aside for later. Save the queries for January.
I miss writing and all its associated activities, the Yin. But I love when the holiday chores are finished and there is only the unwrapping and the eating, and eating, and eating, the Yang. Mailing the cards with letters and pictures, the Yin. Reading the cards and letters from others, the Yang. Eating the wonderful foods of the season, the Yin. Starting the diet on January second, the Yang.
It’s the time of the year where the contrasts are the most obvious to me. After it’s all over and I’ve partied in the New Year, I’ll look back with a sense of accomplishment, and look forward to a new beginning.
Hope your holidays were filled with family, friends, food, and fun.