Shannon here: Deanna K. Klingel shares her inspiration for her book, Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter last week’s drawings. Deadline: Feb 3rd, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Deanna:
There he was, in church every Sunday with a “new” woman. We were all secretly cheering for him. His tiny Lithuanian wife had passed away and he’d been so lonely. A tall and healthy Lithuanian, he had a proud bearing. He lived alone in the woods in the house he’d built for he and his wife. His strong and heavily-accented voice was friendly, and he still did some maintenance work around the church. But his joy was gone. Until, the new woman.
The new woman, tall and sturdily-built, was outgoing and chatty. Her Lithuanian accent was often hard to understand. They often conversed in Lithuanian. Before long everyone knew her cheerful disposition and robust zeal for life and the church. We learned she had lost her husband and now lived alone in Florida.
The love story between this elderly man and woman is the story I wrote in Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story. The title refers to being caught between a Russian invasion and a German betrayal, and the love of their country. And a very patient love between two young people who never expected to see one another again.
This pre-World War II love story began in Lithuania; Vytas lived with his family on a large prosperous farm; Danute’s father was a pharmacist and they lived in the city. Both children were living the happy and typical life of Lithuanians. On her 10th birthday, Danute’s family was uprooted. In the country, Vytas’s family was fleeing. The trials that beset both families happened to displaced families across Eastern Europe. There are many stories of courage and faith, and love.
When I first heard Vytas and Donna’s love story I wanted to write it. They didn’t object but they were puzzled why anyone would care about it. It was “ordinary,” they said. “Lot’s of us peoples have stories like these. Not special.” I agreed there were many interesting stories, but they weren’t being told. We need to tell these stories before they are lost. Our grandchildren and our great grandchildren need to know these stories, to experience and celebrate this kind of enduring love.
For today’s young lovers, this story shows the reality of self-discipline, and personal sacrifice. Young lovers in another century endured self-imposed restrictions, and often put family considerations before their own. They accepted disappointments and did whatever necessary “to make a good life in America.”
Vytas and Donna arrived with their families in the United States after spending most of their youth in a
displaced persons camp in Germany, where they camped with Scout troops, went to school in a bombed-out factory, and danced as teenagers at school dances. Both proud and independent, and both taller than average, they hesitated to show their interest, for fear of rejection. First love bloomed in their restless hearts, but would remain secret for much of their lives.
Years passed before the families arrived in the United States. Her family went to Connecticut; his family went to Nebraska. He went into the Army, she joined the workforce; both struggled with their immigrant lives. They married; Donna had children. They worked, laughed and cried, before they would ever meet again. In the most unlikely circumstance that only God could have created, in a moment they could not have planned, a scene no author could invent, the secret love of their youth was rekindled, their virtue and their patience rewarded.
About Deanna: Author Deanna K Klingel writes for Pre K through adult, including several historical fiction and nonfiction. Her love of history is behind Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story, a true story, suitable for young adult as well as adult audiences. She lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with her childhood sweetheart, husband for 56 years.
About the book – Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story: Historical events become personal when told by those who were part of the events. This true story, walking a narrow balance between history and romance, is the love story of a boy, a girl and their country. Born in 1930, they live carefree healthy childhoods in prosperous Lithuania. All that changes for them at age nine with the invasion of Russia. What does that mean for Roman Catholic families? What does it mean for Lithuania? Follow their heroic travels as refugees into Germany where their parallel lives intersect. Love, like fine wine, ages in a divine and mysterious way.
Question for Readers: Are there any refugees or immigrants from other countries in your family history?
Come back Jan 30th for Carole Brown!