Shannon here: Womens’ fiction author, Lisa Wingate shares her grandparent’s real life romance plus a chance to win her latest release, The Prayer Box. Comment on this post to get your name in the drawing. Deadline: September 7th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Lisa:
Lisa Wingate Tells a Family Story about Love at First Sight
You never know when a love story will surface or a family secret will be revealed! There we were, in a hotel room sorting and assembling some freebie handouts at a conference recently. My mother (Sharon) was with me and we had picked up my delightful Aunt Sandy on our way. Mom and Aunt Sandy had a sisters’ weekend while I attended the convention.
While we were working, Aunt Sandy started asking us the questions from our conversation starter cards, just for fun. When we came to a question about an out-of-the-box love story in the family, we all thought of my grandparents, Vi and Norm. Their love story has always been one of my favorites, because it confirms that love-at-first-sight really does exist, and it can last a lifetime. You can actually meet someone and know instantly that it’s the real thing.
The night my grandparents met, he was a tall, suave, drummer in a jazz band, and she was a shy young girl at the dance with her parents. During a break, my grandfather asked her to dance, and that night he went home and told his mother he had met the girl he was going to marry. He said that she just fit right in his arms, she could follow him just great, and he just knew she was the one. They could really cut a rug as they said in those days.
After a short period of sparkin’, my grandfather bought his sweetheart a beautiful diamond engagement ring. The picture is of them taking an old-fashioned carriage ride on the day they were engaged. Isn’t that the sweetest of love-at-first-sight stories?
What I didn’t know until that night in the conference hotel room, was that there was a little family secret about that sweet love story.
While we were working, my mother mentioned that my grandmother, when she was newly engaged, had lost that original diamond ring when it slipped into the potato peels and was thrown out in the hog pen with the slop. The ring, my mother had been told, was a little big on Grandma’s dainty finger. Sadly, it was never seen again. Mom said her grandma had told her all about that—several times over the years, in fact.
My Aunt laughed when she heard my mother’s version of this story. Aunt Sandy had been told (perhaps by one of my grandmother’s fun-loving brothers) that the engagement ring was lost in the pigpen because my grandmother threw it in there and broke up with my grandfather. Grandma had surprised her beau at a dance hall where his band was playing, and she saw him dancing with another girl. She’d have none of his explanation that the woman was an old family friend. My grandmother then proceeded home and threw the ring into the pigpen. There was my mom with her jaw agape and we all had a hearty laugh!
Luckily for us descendants, the breakup was only temporary. But by the time apologies were accepted, and forgiveness was extended, the ring was long gone. The troughs and wallows were sifted, but the ring was never seen again. When my grandparents married, a plain, small, gold band went on my grandmother’s finger. My grandfather said he never bought her another fancy ring because she had thrown the first one to the pigs.
Perhaps the truth is a little something different. Perhaps that plain, gold band remained on my grandmother’s finger as a reminder that love is not about fancy tokens or flashes of emotion. Love that lasts is about patience, daily devotion, the determination to listen, the habitual extending of kindness, and the habit of looking for the best in the one you love.
A little creative storytelling doesn’t hurt either.
So, here’s to family history, that which is slightly altered, and that which is newly shared, and that which will always be tenderly remembered.
What about you? Is there an out-of-the-box love story in your family? Or is there a family story that may have been creatively embellished along the way?
All that hilarity over the two different versions of the story led to more family stories and to some brainstorming over my WIP, The Prayer Box. Aunt Sandy insisted that she wanted to be in the story and own Sandy’s Seashell Shop. She’d sell shells (of course) but also hand-crafted jewelry from sea glass and beachy treasures. There were glass boxes and wind chimes and all kinds of mini seascapes in shells and ornament balls. The details were too good to leave out, so Aunt Sandy became a character, and around her developed a sisterhood of the heart.
Eventually, Aunt Sandy and Sandy’s Seashell Shop even got their own story. When my publishers asked for a prequel novella to The Prayer Box, I wrote The Sea Glass Sisters, and Sandy and her little shop were the stars.
Suffice to say that The Prayer Box and The Sea Glass Sisters are the books that girlfriends built. And as I write this, we’re making plans for a big book kickoff in Florida to raise money for a food program that gives snack backpacks to hungry kids. And of course, while that’s happening, (the real) Sandy and Sharon of (the fictional) Sandy’s Seashell Shop will be right there beside me, ready to sign their names to the title page, as well!
About Lisa: Lisa Wingate is a magazine columnist, speaker, and the author of nineteen mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller, Tending Roses, now in its nineteenth printing. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her novel, Blue Moon Bay, was a Booklist Top Ten of 2012 pick. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.
When not dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women’s literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteers teach adults to read. Lisa lives on a ranch in Texas, where she spoils the livestock, raises boys, and teaches Sunday school to high school seniors. She was inspired to become a writer by a first grade teacher who said she expected to see Lisa’s name in a magazine one day.
Lisa also entertained childhood dreams of being an Olympic gymnast and winning the National Finals Rodeo, but was stalled by the inability to do a back flip on the balance beam and parents who wouldn’t finance a rodeo career. She was lucky enough to marry into a big family of cowboys and southern storytellers who would inspire any lover of tall tales and interesting, yet profound characters. She is a full time writer, and pens inspirational fiction for both the general Christian markets. Of all the things she loves about her job, she loves connecting with people, both real and imaginary, the most. More information about Lisa’s novels can be found at www.Lisawingate.com. Learn more: http://www.southernbelleview.com. Join me on Facebook and Youtube and http://http//pinterest.com/lisawingatebook/boards/
About the book – The Prayer Box: When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.
Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.
An e-novella prequel, The Sea Glass Sister was released in July.
Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvuDuh8PdDs&feature=c4-overview&list=UUeRpQGXe2yAw99CfIPBFXFw
Come back August 28th for Karla Akins!