Many of you are familiar with our guest today since she was once a blogger here. JoAnn Durgin is a dear friend of mine that is always there for me, and I appreciate her so much! This week I am out of town so she is pinch hitting for me today. She would like you to know that she giving away one copy of either If You Believe or Love on Assignment in Millcreek to one person who answers the question at the end of this post. Without further adieu I turn this over to JoAnn.
In late July of this past year, I wrote the most difficult piece of writing I’ve ever done—the eulogy for my 87-year-old mother. Yet it was also my greatest labor of love.
While wanting to pay tribute to an inspiring woman from the unique perspective of being her only daughter, I wanted to offer a glimpse of a young, divorced mom who was raising two small children in an era when it wasn’t commonplace. A woman who sometimes wore a black leather jacket, fire engine red lipstick, and big black sunglasses. Not that she was rebellious, but she could certainly be independent, feisty, and speak her mind. She wasn’t perfect, but she did the best she could, and that was more than enough. If you earned her loyalty, you had it forever. If you earned her love, it was unwavering and steadfast.
When she once needed a new car, Mama took me with her to a dealership that advertised “Nobody walks away.” The salesman who waited on her suggested she come back with her husband. All of five feet tall, she proudly rose to her feet and squared her shoulders. “Nobody walks away? Watch this!” Taking me by the hand, head held high, she marched out of the showroom. Then drove straight to another dealership where she plunked down cash for a shiny new vehicle.
Mama was blessed enough not to have to work, but she taught kindergarten for 11 years and invested herself in her “children.” She also worked as a part-time travel agent. No doubt, she inspired many of my book heroines. Every summer, she took my brother and I on car trips. With the windows rolled down, she’d belt out theme songs from musicals at the top of her lungs. She adored covered bridges, and we traveled over many a country road to find and photograph them.
A fun and adventurous traveling companion, my mother took me to Europe several times and on my first Caribbean cruise. She also sent me to London to study for a semester (and came to visit me over Easter). She did these things because she could and wanted me to glimpse the world with its diverse people and cultures. The Lord knew her generosity would help me become the writer I am today. Later on, she visited the Holy Land, Egypt, Russia, Europe, Hawaii, and Alaska. Even after turning 60, she went whitewater rafting and parasailing!
One of her favorite things of all was to walk on a beach and collect seashells. Last September, I strolled the beach in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, shortly after Hurricane Dorian. Although the area escaped significant damage, most of the shells were broken. Halfway buried in the same, I dug out a beautifully preserved “olive” shell—shiny, intact, and one she would have called a “treasure.” I carry it with me every day as a constant reminder of how blessed I was to have her as my mom. The best thing is my hope and assurance that I’ll see her again one day on those celestial shores!
Mama loved Jesus and made Him part of her life, digging deep into God’s Word. She often gave devotionals to local groups, digging deep into her research and opening the eyes of her audience to topics such as human trafficking and the need for clean water in impoverished areas of the globe. She was a leader and the most organized person I’ve ever met.
My mother was also a lifelong voracious reader and faithfully kept a journal where she faithfully detailed her thoughts, her life. One of my recent releases, If You Believe, is lovingly dedicated to her, and the following words are the last ones she ever read.
You taught me by example to love words—
the wonderful images they create
and the senses they evoke—bringing
sight, touch, smell, hearing, and tasting
into glorious, vivid being.
I grew to love the way words roll off the tongue,
the way they sound.
How, when paired with other words,
words can bring new worlds to life.
You opened my mind to embrace ideas
and encouraged me to dream.
You gave me wings and
taught me to fly on my own.
You modeled strength, character, and
grace with dignity.
You showed me I could do nothing on my own
without Christ in my heart.
I’m doing my best to follow your example
and pray I’ll always make you proud.
Thank you for giving me life and
demonstrating how to live fully, confidently,
For that and so much more…
I love you now,
I love you always.
Learn more about JoAnn on her website.
To be entered for a chance to win an ebook copy of either Love on Assignment in Millcreek or If you Believe be sure to answer the question below. (Void where prohibited by law. Open to US readers only.)
Which person in your life could inspire a wonderful fictional character? Please share what makes them so special!
*Some of the foregoing content was originally published on the Seriously Write blog in August of 2019.