Remembering my Mother’s Mother


My mother’s mother as a young girl. She loved nature and being outdoors all her life.

Today is my mother’s mother’s birthday. I like to remember the people who were close to me on their birthdays. And so, I’m remembering Lillian Capps today. She was born in 1886 and lived 92 years.

Grandmothers come in all sorts, some are delighted when the new generation arrives… others, not so much. I had one grandmother who delighted in me as a child, smothered me with affection, and loved spending time with me.

My other one didn’t.

But, love has many facets. Some people show affection easily… others don’t. Some people like you, and others don’t. Love is caring and it is possible to love someone you don’t especially like. My mother’s mother didn’t like young children all that much. I was the first in my generation, and she wasn’t ready to be a grandmother. In fact, I think she detested being called any term related to that stage of life. (This blog is not going to be all negative or disrespectful to my mother’s mother. I promise to pull it out.)

My mother’s mother preferred to be called Booger. And so, that’s what I called her all the days of her life, and so did my siblings and cousins. She acquired this nickname when my mother was a child, Mama gave it to her. Mama told me that when she was little, people often referred to her as You Little Booger (could have been her older sisters). Anyway, she thought it was a term of endearment and started calling her mother, Booger. The name stuck… Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain why I called my mother’s mother Booger instead of the name that most women consider the crowning glory of motherhood.

I do not remember Booger ever holding me, playing with me, or showing any form of affection when I was a child. When we came to visit, I had to sit on my hands on the window-seat… and not move.

Booger didn’t not approve of my mother and father’s marriage, and I was a result of that union. Mama hoped someday Booger would feel okay towards me. And, eventually she did… after I married and moved away. When I came home for a visit, she was always glad to see me and greeted me with a hug, kiss on the cheek, and a smile that lit up her eyes. And when I began to write, she was pleased.

Over the years, she had more to offer than affection. She was an artist with a degree in art from Baylor University. And she loved to garden. She arranged flowers and made corsages. She had an extensive library in her home that was open to me. So, I watched Booger paint and learned from her. I watched her garden, and learned from her. I read her books and loved them… everything about them. She had sets of classics bound in leather. I loved to run my fingers over the spines and fondle the pages.

She introduced me to the beauty of nature and fostered my creativity. I know enough about art to enjoy drawing and painting. I know enough about gardening to enjoy plants and flowers. I can arrange bouquets and make corsages. And, I love books, touching them, reading, them, and writing them. The affection I received from my other grandmother lives on in sweet memories, but I put Booger’s legacy to use every day…

Grandmothers come in all sorts. And the gifts they give their grandchildren are uniquely individual and priceless.


Reader/Writer Dilemma

Quail's Run_edited-1

QUAIL’S RUN, Book Two in The Phoenix Connection is still in the shadows…

I’ve been facing a dilemma for about a week. I’m nearing the end of the first draft of QUAIL’S RUN, the second book in The Phoenix Connection Series, and I don’t know who did it. I’ve intentionally kept the identity of the villain secret from my future readers, and now I find that I’ve kept the secret too well.

So, I’ve struggled, going over the storyline time and time again, searching for clues. I left some along with a few red herrings. But, sorting the red herrings from the clues makes my eyes water and my brain hurt.

And then the scary thoughts come drifting out of the shadows.

What if I publish this book and then realize the villain identified in the last chapter was proven innocent in chapter fifteen?

Oh, my… What a fix I’ve created for myself…When I put my brain in high-gear, sleep doesn’t come easy with all the buzzing in my head.

Son had a simple solution – No brainer, the butler did it. Husband isn’t offering any advice after hearing my response to Son.

So, in the wee hours this morning I consulted my Ultimate Advisor as I have almost every morning for as long as I can remember. And, His answer floated into my mind. Stop stalling! You’re the author. You decide.

So simple.

I’m a reader and a writer, two activities I enjoy and should be true to each. Somehow I slipped into reader mode this past week, trying to figure things out from the storyline I’d read. However, I’m the author. I can choose the villain and rewrite the clues and red herrings as needed.

Whew! I hate to admit how simple everything is once I see the path I should follow.

The general truth is even simpler, and it’s the advice I’ve given others: Take it to the Lord in prayer and wait with a quiet mind and a patient heart. The answer will come in His own time.


First Advice

“Tween Us Gals – I wrote this weekly column 2 1/2 years. It was my beginning.

I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until I was one.

How did this happen?

I overheard a weekly newspaper editor say he needed a fresh new column for his paper. I thought, “I can do that,” and I did. When I saw my first column in print… Well, it was love at first sight.

My first editor was an old newspaper man ready for retirement. He had learned a lot over the years and, well, he was the only person in the publishing business I knew. So, I listened to his advice and felt honored to learn from him.

The first thing he told me: Don’t use the words very, really, or that. So, I marked those words out of my manuscripts before I gave them to him. (Later on, when I wrote for another editor, she went through my manuscript and added a that here and here. But, I’ve never had an editor add really or very.)

That old editor of the local weekly also told me: Never write anything that will hurt anyone.

A friend of his told me I would have to write a million words before I would sell a story. I started writing. I had young children, so I wrote in stolen moments. By the way, a million words is 4,000 double-spaced typed pages with one inch margins. That’s eight reams of paper.

I joined a creative writing class at a local Methodist church. The advice I remember from there was: have faith in your story. If you believe in it, don’t let anyone discourage you. When you receive a critique, only make changes you think will make your story better. It’s your story. Critiques from fellow writers are merely suggestions (edits from an editor, not so much).

Other advice:

Write, write, write. Read, Read, Read.

Write every day.

Learn your craft.

Get rid of the Be words (You have to use some).

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end.

Follow your dream.

When I submitted my first manuscript to a publisher, I didn’t use the words that, really, or very. My story had a beginning, middle, and end. I believed in it although my creative writing teacher said it was unbelievable. I sold LITTLE MISTAKE to Highlights for Children long before I wrote a million words. It was published May, 1973 (about a year after it was accepted), and I’ve been following my dream ever since…

Granny June’s Legacy

Little Brother and I ready for church one Easter morning.

Little Brother and I posing for photos one Sunday morning before Church. (The kittens weren’t going.)

I recently received a note from my nephew. He and his wife are planting a church on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. They’ve been in the field since January. They started a Bible Study they plan to grow into a church. But this is not really what I want to blog about today. In the note my nephew wrote, he said: I am so thankful for Granny June’s legacy of faith, and I do my best to honor her through ministry.”

My mom’s legacy is what I want to tell you about.

As far as I know religion wasn’t important to my maternal grandmother and grandfather. They didn’t take their three girls to Sunday school or attend church. When Mama was ten, she decided to go to church on her own. Although the Methodist church was next door, she decided to walk about three blocks to the Baptist church. And that is where she decided to follow Jesus. Maybe she made that decision before she walked those three blocks that first Sunday morning…

Mama didn’t tell me why she chose the Baptist over the Methodist. (I should tell you that in that small town, there were two major religions – Methodists and Baptist.) I would guess that her friends went to the Baptist church.

I think Mama drifted away during her teen years, maybe did a little backsliding of some sort. After she finished high school, she went away to college and returned the next summer to marry her high school sweetheart, Daddy. And a while later, I came along.

She later told me that after we moved to the farm (I was three when we moved), she and I were walking down the driveway one afternoon. It was about a quarter mile to the main road… She was holding my hand, and she said my hand felt so small in hers. She didn’t tell me all her thoughts, just that she realized she wanted to bring me up in the church. I’m glad she did. I don’t think I could have walked the six miles to town to go on my own.

Little Brother came along a couple of years later, but Little Sister didn’t arrive until I was twenty. Mama took us all to Sunday school and church and saw that we got the foundation for our faith. And, I believe she prayed for all three of us, and our families, until the day she died.

She taught primary and intermediate Sunday school when I was young and then took over the ladies class sometime after I was grown and married. She taught that class well into her 80s, as long as she could stand and teach. As Mama neared the end of her days, several ladies from her class came to her home for Sunday afternoon Bible Study.

Mama attended the same church from the time she was ten and was still a member when she passed on to Glory at the age of 93. And, my sister’s son is working to honor her legacy in Wyoming. I’m sure Mama is pleased. And I am thankful that I have a share in her legacy of faith.