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Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Gales and Grace of November

Two days ago was Veteran's Day, when we remember those who have fought for our homes and lives. Living in Michigan, when November comes around, so do reminders of one of the Great Lakes' best known disasters, a 1975 shipwreck, immortalized in song the following year by Canadian Gordon Lightfoot, as The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. There is something about tragedy that brings us together, and brings out the best in who we are. (I particularly like this video over others made of the song because it lists the names of the 29 lives lost when the ship sank in a November storm. It's a thoughtful tribute.)

One of the things I like exploring as I write is the different ways that people deal with the aftermaths of disaster. That's one reason many of my characters have police or military backgrounds, or have had other devastating moments in their history. The rising above, of moving on as a different, perhaps damaged but also perhaps stronger, individual makes for a particularly interesting character. A survivor can be a challenge to write, but delving into the darker places of humanity can also be rewarding for a writer, especially when you get to make sure they have that happy ending they so deserve.

My grandfather, Mark Spencer, in WWI--he got his happy ending in real life--after the war he married his high school sweetheart and they were together until he passed away over 50 years, 8 children, and 30 grandchildren later.

This has been a rather rough year for my family in many ways, including loss of both friends and family. Yet, as we move toward Thanksgiving, one of the most important of holidays on my personal calendar, I still have so much to be grateful for. I have a house with a working furnace, a wonderful husband, children of whom I can be proud, a granddaughter I adore. I have wonderful in-laws, a father who is still healthy at 92, dogs who keep my feet warm on cool nights, and friends on whom I can count. Life is never perfect,  but as things go, mine is better than many, and for that I am thankful.

Two years ago, I wrote Thankful for You as part of Decadent Publishing's Calendar Men series. It's about Sig, a wounded veteran, and Elsie, who survived domestic abuse. They come together as friends, only hoping they have it in them to one day love. I shed a few tears writing this story, and hope it might touch you too. Because that's the essence of real love to me--making it through the trials of life, and celebrating the good, and knowing, all the while, you've got someone who cares unconditionally, even if you're not at your best.

Thankful for You by Cindy Spencer Pape

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Melissa Keir said...

There is something wonderful about a survivor. They show to the rest of us how even at the worst of times, we can overcome and find happiness!

Cara Marsi said...

What an inspiring post. I love the picture of your grandfather.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks Cara and Melissa! My grandfather was quite the character. He always had a little flask of "cough medicine" in his pocket when Grandma wasn't looking, and was endlessly patient with all us grandkids.

Judy Baker said...

What a wonderful post. I always like the song, but never thought about the meaning. Thank you so much for sharing, including the picture of your grandfather. When I look at my grandfather's picture when he was young, I often wonder what stories he could tell from his youthful life. Thank you for sharing.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks for your kind comments, Judy!

Diane Burton said...

As soon as I read November and gales, Lightfoot's song came into my head. Another Michigander here. Lovely post about your family. When tragedy hits, we can be consumed by it or find reasons to be thankful. Best wishes to you.

Paris said...

I've always loved Lightfoot and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is a particular favorite. THANKFUL FOR YOU sounds like a wonderful story. I'll have to check it out! I have to tell you that I love that photo of your handsome grandfather in his uniform:)

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