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Monday, November 23, 2015

Guest Blog: E.Ayers A Season for Death and Sadness #RB4U #PepperPhillips

Think autumn flowers and what comes to mind? Chrysanthemums, especially the pompom mums we all wore on football nights at school. From plain flat blooms to big puffballs and in a wide range of colors from reds, and russets, to yellows, greens, whites, purples and lilacs, they are also easily colored by adding dye to their water, meaning you can have them in any color. They brighten our gardens and often remind me of the Muppets. You can't help but smile when you see them.
They’ve been used historically as an herbal insecticide, a wine, a sweet tea, and as fall decorations. More recently, studies have shown mums to seriously reduce air pollution. But they are also considered death or funeral flowers in many parts of the world. Autumn is sort of the natural cycle of life. Just as so many annual plants have succumbed to a frosty death, and the leaves fallen from the trees, that cycle of death is repeated with humans.
Is it something left over from when we first walked the Earth? Was it more practical to die before the winter cold struck and froze the ground to the point when burial was impossible? I’ve asked a few doctors about it. They get that deer-in-the-headlamps stare as they ponder the question. Most have responded with an affirmative about death striking the elderly more frequently in September, October, and November. Then others give that standard answer that there is no such thing, and it’s an old wives' tale.
I do know that I've lost grandparents, parents, my husband's parents, and several other elderly members of the family in the autumn months. I've also seen plenty of friends lose their parents and family members in the fall months. Accidents and illness can claim anyone at any time. But today, we seem to be forced to attach a reason for death. Old age is not considered a cause of death. I beg to differ on that.
Of course, what is old age?
I was looking over the medical records of my deceased husband. In his initial visit to the ER, he was described as a frail, elderly man. What? My daughter, who was a first responder as a paramedic for many years and later as an RN in the Emergency Department of a large hospital, just rolled her eyes. "Mom, thirty-five and up is middle aged."
Huh? Okay, I get it. (But I still haven't figured out frail, as opposed to what, obese? He had a washboard stomach!)
"Mom, that hospital clerk is nineteen, she saw some gray hair and said 'elderly'." Okay, so age is relative. To a young woman, my husband was an old man.
Elderly, according to our local emergency departments, is considered age fifty and up. Yikes! At least let us reach the age of retirement first! And the closer I get to that retirement date, the older elderly becomes. Can we say prime? I like that. I'm in the prime of my life.
And I understand that 150 years ago 22 was considered middle aged. Women were married in a dress and often buried in that same dress a few years later when they died in childbirth. So times have changed and medicine has changed. We live longer. But we still reach a point where the body gives up and parts wear out faster than modern medicine can keep up.
Among my family and friends, I've seen the Grim Reaper claim quite a few people. And other than those who were lost to mishaps or struck by cancer, etc., the vast majority I would consider elderly deaths. These are people who have reached the end of their time on Earth. And in almost every case, those deaths have occurred in the autumn months.
And what flower blooms in autumn? Chrysanthemums. So it's quite natural to use what nature has made available for funerals to honor the dead.
This past weekend has been difficult for the Authors of Main Street, as we've kept vigil. The Grim Reaper came and snatched one of our beloved members who was in the prime of her life.
For many, an author is merely the name on a book. Pepper Phillips was a pen name. In real life, she was a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She also was a nursing home administrator, a gardener, a top-notch cook, a spreadsheet queen, a breast cancer survivor, and most of all a dear friend. She didn't just write about the Boggy Bayou, she lived there. Her husband and her boys went alligator hunting. It was like a rite of passage into manhood to do that. She had the "camp" property and her regular house. From her pictures, you couldn't tell one from the other. If there was space for a flower, she planted it.
Her books always warmed the heart and often made us giggle. Her wonderful sense of humor came though in almost everything she wrote. She was the epitome of a Main Street author and a big sis to all of us within that group.

She's probably best known for her book The Devil has Dimples. A reader posted the following quotes from that book on GoodReads.

“Sometimes that’s all you get out of life. Great shoes.”
“I’ve been stabbed lately with life.”
“All that mattered in life, that someone loved you even though you had faults.”
“She laughed and said how silly we were to not accept life for what it was, difficult.”
“An old expression–‘she looks like she was weaned on a pickle’–came to my mind.”
“Never scorn a woman. They get violent.”
“So, there is a God protecting the innocent. Too bad, he didn’t act sooner.”

Pepper had a sense of humor but she also seemed to understand life, the highs, the lows, and the importance of family and friends. Her writing reflected her good sense and made her a best selling author on Amazon.
Her last book can be found here in the Authors of Main Street's Christmas on Main Street - Book 2. It's another heartwarming story as only Pepper Phillips could write.
The cycle of life is a natural one. It is those of us who are left behind who grieve. It is also a beautiful time of year. The colors of fall call to my heart. Mums are part of that wonderful autumn palette. They almost glow in the sunshine, yet they have color that seems to have weathered a long season. Unlike the spring's vibrant yellow of the jonquils or the tulips' fire-engine red, mums tend to have a touch of gold in the yellow and a bit of plum in the red. They appear to be warmer and softer than their spring cousins. Pepper was like that, all warm and soft with a heart of gold.

Christmas on Main Street - Book 2 Kindle Edition
by Susan R. Hughes, Carol DeVaney, Pepper Phillips, Kristy Tate, & E. Ayers
Welcome to Main Street. It's not a place. It's an attitude. It's not Key West or San Diego or Halifax or Richmond or West Haven - it's any town. It can be anyplace that you can imagine. The authors of Main Street create high-quality romances that warm your heart.
This year we are pleased to bring you five brand-new holiday romance novellas in a boxed set.
Mistletoe & Wine by Susan R. Hughes, USA Today bestselling author:
For Colleen Dixon, Christmas of 1986 seems sure to be miserable. Having just lost her job, her lover and her apartment, she figures a trip across the country to spend the holidays at her grandmother’s house might be just what she needs. Meeting Dr. Liam Clancy during her visit brings a whole new shine to her Christmas spirit. Recently divorced, Liam never intended to fall for a woman again so soon, especially one who lives so far away. Can a holiday fling survive as a long-distance romance, or will the New Year bring the promise of something more?
Christmas at Apple Lake by Carol DeVaney, National bestselling author:
If you’re lucky in love, that second chance will come…
Sometimes love goes wrong, and the cost often defeats even the strongest of women. If you overcome the sorrow of loss and have the courage and determination to believe, love will find you again.
A Magical Christmas by Pepper Phillips, National bestselling author:
During a weekend in Las Vegas, S. R. Lejeune decides to skip the trouble of courtship and propose marriage to the beautiful blonde sitting next to him.
His arguments for a quick marriage are so clear and concise that Jazz Morgan decides to take him up on his offer – especially after their mind-blowing kiss.
But can shared aspirations and a mutual attraction be enough to build a marriage? Maybe not, when S. R. comes to believe the worst of his new bride.
Can Jazz capture the heart of the man she loves? Or should she?
Sometimes it takes more than time for a marriage of convenience to grow into a forever love.
The Little White Christmas Lie by Kristy Tate, National bestselling author:
Carson Trent doesn't know that the beautiful Millie Cruise who literally falls into his lap is really Camille Harper, bestselling romance writer.
Millie doesn't know that she is headed for Carson's grandmother's inn in a quaint New England town.
Neither Carson nor Millie know that their lives are about to spin out of control thanks to a patch of black ice, a cow, and a little white Christmas lie.
Christmas at Mariner’s Cove by E. Ayers, National bestselling author:
It was just a little fib. Celine Colburn wasn't expecting Prince Charming because that was the stuff of fairy tales. But when she met Frank Cresson, she found herself instantly drawn to him. Just as they were getting to know each other, she becomes a witness to a horrendous motorcycle accident that left him unconscious. Except, a lie has a way of growing.


Carol said...

E. this is a beautiful post in Pepper Phillips memory. Thank you.

jean hart stewart said...

A lovely tribute to your friend...She must be smiling in heaven....

vicki batman said...

Thank you for sharing about Pepper. We met at a conference many years ago and always had a moment to chat via online, Triberr, Facebook. She will be missed.

E. Ayers said...

Thanks, Carol. Hardest thing I ever wrote because I couldn't stop crying.

Jean, if there's a heaven, she's there!

Pepper was one of those people that everyone seemed to know. She was active at RWA conferences, etc. And she had over 30,000 twitter followers! I don't know how she managed to keep up with everyone, but she did it with a big smile. She's also mentored so many authors, held their hands, and helped them along the way.

Melissa Keir said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. I'm sure she would be smiling at your tribute to her. It's nice to have close friends in this business and she sounds like she was amazing.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute, E. I'm sure Pepper knew how loved she was. I, for one, enjoyed reading her blog posts about her home in Louisiana. A very special lady, she'll be missed {{hugs}}

Kristy said...

That was lovely, E. I like to think Pepper thinks so, as well.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you E. for helping readers know more about our friend Pepper Phillips.

D'Ann said...

She was a lovely lady. I will miss her.

Carly Carson said...

That was a lovely tribute to your friend. I was just literally reading Truman Capote's words about chrysanthemums ("like lions. Kingly characters") in his story The Thanksgiving Visitor. I think I remember Donna from when I first started writing and she had a huge assortment of writing articles online. I'm sorry to hear about her death.

Jill James said...

A light has gone out on Main Street as we sit and remember our dear friend. Pepper, your star shoots across the universe brighter than the moon shining down on us tonight.

E. Ayers said...

Okay, I'm crying again. She will be missed on Main Street but also across the web. As I said elsewhere, we get to pick our friends which makes it twice as difficult when we lose them.

Kayelle Allen said...

I'm sorry to hear this. We can each have an impact on others just by being kind, but it sounds like she went far above and beyond. I feel like I met her, after reading your words. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Barb Caffrey said...

E. I'm so sorry to hear about Pepper. She sounds like a remarkable woman, someone who truly cared about others, someone who did not live her life in vain.

You wrote a beautiful tribute to her memory.

I know how hard that is, and I respect you greatly for doing it. (I always have respected you a great deal, E. And admired you, too.)

For whatever it's worth, I bought the book just now. I was going to buy it anyway, but decided not to wait under the circumstances...may the memory of Pepper help to always light your path.

Sylvia said...

I met and got to know Donna at the Editor/agent desk of RWA. I can't tell you how many years I would sit there and wait for someone not to show up and then she would look up and say do you want to meet with X and I would jump up exicted to get yet another appointment. Was I successful after getting all those extra appointments? No, both agents and my editor came from query letters, but still I dreamed and Donna was right there helping me with that dream. It kind of became a joke when she saw me. Oh you, you're back again. She was a delightful person and I'm sorry to hear that she's gone. But I'm sure in the next life that she's writing and doing what she loves and she's no longer in pain. Rest in peace, Donna.

Janice Seagraves said...

Sorry to hear the loss of a wonderful person. We just lost my grandmother. Mums for sure this year for more funerals.


Bev Pettersen said...

I'm very sorry to hear about Pepper. What a lovely generous lady. I remember her incredible spreadsheets and the time she spent organizing our books. My heart goes out to all her family, friends, and the entire writing community. Thank you for this post, E.

Kris Pearson said...

Lovely tribute, E. Pepper was the first person who responded to a question I dared to ask on the IndieInk loop, and she was so kind and helpful to this puzzled kiwi.

Sydney Jane Baily said...

So sorry to hear of Pepper's passing. She was a superb storyteller.

Marcia James said...

I didn't know Pepper personally, but I knew of her writing. I'm very sorry to hear of her passing. The literary world lost a very special author. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

Joan Reeves said...

Pepper was a talented author, but more importantly, she was a gracious lady and a calm and encouraging voice to all who knew her. We'll all miss her.

Livia Quinn said...

What I remember most about Pepper was her tireless encouragement and drive to help our small chapter in Alexandria, Louisiana. Back in 2007 it was tough in our rural area to get enough writers together who were serious about making their dreams come true but Pepper persevered with monthly meetings and emails. As you said she was a spreadsheet queen. I remember one she made back in 2008 that helped create the story, with plot points, the story structure in an elaborate fashion that was a classic example of her vision. I'm so glad she could make her dream a reality. I'll miss watching her achieve more and we'll alll miss her.

Lyndi Lamont said...

So sorry to hear about Pepper. She was such a sweet lady.

Linda McLaughlin/Lyndi Lamont

E. Ayers said...

Thank you all for stopping by and commenting.

If there's a heaven, she's there. St Peter probably already has one of her spreadsheets to make his job easier and I'm certain she's entertaining the angels by telling stories to whoever wants to hear them.

She was a one-of-a-kind and she will be missed!

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