Carry On

Lasting LoveI haven’t written for nearly two years. For an author, this admission is not a particularly good omen. Well on my way to a third publishing, a divine intervention was about to occur that would usher in an abrupt change of course. Banish book-writing, editing, and marketing. This was a higher calling, one that required writing to be placed on hold for as long as necessary. My new mission; to care for my sweet, aging parents. My commission; to help them finish well.

The next two-plus years were nothing short of blessed. Even though there was the normal fatigue, worry, and frustration that frequently accompanies caregiving, there was also a heavenly bounty of grace, mercy, love, and pure joy that proved immeasurable. I will never regret a single moment.

I’ve given my heart three months before attempting to compose a few sentences here and there, quite sure that my writing will reflect a very personal journey of the soul from time to time. My precious mother passed away in October 2017. Some days, it’s hard to breathe. The “firsts” still catch me off guard; Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday (and the traditional “Mama Cake”), New Year’s, and the cold, gray trip to the cemetery for the first time where I wept uncontrollably. Not far from me stood an elderly stranger, stooped over a granite grave marker who was doing the same. My heart hurt more so for him. Perhaps he reminded me of my sweet Dad who is now a resident at a nearby memory care facility, no longer able to live alone or with me because of the level of care required for advanced dementia. The sad difference is that the elderly man at the cemetery was grieving deeply – my precious Dad doesn’t remember my mother, his wife of seventy-two years. The combined loss of both parents, though different in nature, is immense.

Yesterday, I reluctantly left the house for a dental procedure that would no longer tolerate my procrastination. Three hours later, I stood up with numbness from my nose to my chin. The dentist congratulated me for being such a good patient and putting up with a long, and complicated procedure. He didn’t even chastise me for the procrastination. I suspect he knew I had suffered sufficiently. He smiled and left the room.

I put on my coat and picked up my purse. Out of the blue, the dental assistant shared with me that her father’s death was likely imminent and that she didn’t know how she would eventually deal with the loss and grief. The moments that followed felt surreal. I saw my hand reach for hers – and then heard the sound of my voice, “Honey, some days you’ll feel like you can’t breathe. The pain of loss will be great. Grief is the price we pay for loving someone with all of our heart.” She cried and reached out for comfort. “I know how you feel right now,” I assured her. “But, trust me, in time you will smile again.” Listen to me. Me, whose heart is still breaking from my own sense of loss. Comforting a hurting soul who is grieving someone who has not yet passed. But, grieving nonetheless. I told her that I would remember to pray for her and her family. Strangely, I turned and walked out the door with a lightness in my step that has long been absent. I can’t help but recall a familiar Scripture that talks about ‘bearing one another’s burdens.’ Isn’t that precisely what lightens our own?

The Kitchen Table

Country Cottage KitchenThe kitchen table.  In my family, it was here that important discussions had their genesis.  Opinions were readily expressed on religion, politics, family values, money matters, raising children, taking care of the elderly, education, social responsibility and death.  Typically, the children listened, and the adults talked.  That said, at a very young age I had a clear idea of the persuasions, perspectives and prejudices of those who sat around the kitchen table with their cups of strong, black coffee.  Occasionally, discussions were heated, and tempers flared.  For emphasis, there was an occasional smack of the hand on the table top.  But, at the end of the day these same strongly opinionated kinfolk showed their unending love and respect for each other with hugs, kisses and goodbyes – until the next spirited visit took place.

Never a Dull Moment

Victorian CornerAbout The House Guest, Tony Parsons writes: “A very well-written historical fiction novel. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start to finish with never a dull moment. There were lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns and a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This would also make another great historical family fiction movie, or mini TV series. A very easy rating of 5 stars.”

Old Time Grace

Front Porch

REVIEW OF THE HOUSE GUEST

The House Guest by Deborah Norris is a relaxing novel with Maggie Davis as the protagonist; owner of a grand Victorian Manor turned to a bed and breakfast. Her daughter Jenna and her outspoken neighbour Lee are her two lifelines which keep her moving; along with a few newcomers who frequent this manor bringing with them tales of their own.

The quaint Tilden town, the conversations and discussions of the house guests around the kitchen table, and the screen door shutting at the back porch of Maggie’s home and the kitchen door swinging open; perfectly reflects old time grace. The story connects the readers to the importance of culture and to value family ties.

The author’s colorful writing style reflects actual events which occur in our lives someday or the other, engaging me till the end and I would highly recommend this book to all who enjoy nostalgia with a tint of humor and a bit of mystery as well.  ~ Pervin Bharucha, Amazon Reviewer

Days Gone By

CaptureSpringCabinWhere have all the days gone? My babies grew up, and my parents grew old. Seasons have come and gone many times over, like a spinning carousel. Everything seems as though it occurred just yesterday, but the mirror tells me otherwise. ~ Deborah L. Norris

Keeper of Childhood Memories

DepartedThe old house was nothing at all like what she had described to me through the years. From her vivid recollections, I saw in my mind a lovely, well-kept home with spacious rooms and beautiful furnishings. According to her, it was a glorious place that remained alive with the laughter of children and happy conversation around the kitchen table.  Now I stood in the doorway of this dilapidated structure, and found it all but difficult to disguise my shock. She walked slowly into the rundown keeper of her childhood memories, and raised her head as if to draw in the yesteryear aroma of homemade bread cooling on the kitchen counter. She smiled with utter delight, her hands clasped tightly to her chest. It was in this moment I realized she had described precisely what she would always remember.  ~ Deborah L. Norris

A Little Christmas Cheer

ChristmasBeautyIf you haven’t had the opportunity to read The House Guest, for a limited time you can order a Kindle edition for only $.99. Get your copy today! The House Guest

SAMPLE EXCERPT FROM THE HOUSE GUEST:   The gold Lincoln Continental traveled slowly down the snow-covered lane and onto the main road leading toward the school. Jenna sat in the front seat between Noah and Maggie, dressed in her sheep costume and rehearsing her play lines under her breath.

“No need to be nervous, Miss Jenna.” Noah knew instinctively that she was uneasy about the upcoming performance. “From what I’ve heard, sheep have very good memories,” he said, reassuringly. She glanced up at him and smiled, black felt nose firmly in place.

Maggie placed her hand on Jenna’s. “You’ll do just fine, sweetheart.”

Anna echoed encouragement from the backseat. “Above all, relax and have a good time, dear.”

“I’m just wondering if they’re providing refreshments for those of us who will be subjected to sitting through a two-hour program.” Lee gazed out the side window, already restless.

Within a few minutes, they were parked in front of Tilden Public School and making their way into the building to locate seating in the large auditorium.  Once everyone was finally seated, the sixth-grade band began playing a slightly familiar Christmas carol while the other students quickly assembled on risers for the performance. Jenna anxiously scanned the audience, and then waved shyly when she spotted her family. Following suit, Lee waved while simultaneously leaning in Anna’s direction to whisper, “Lord have mercy, that sounds nothing like Joy to the World!”

During a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells, Lee began shifting back and forth in her seat. She leaned again to whisper to Anna, “These chairs are terribly uncomfortable.” Shifting to the side once more, she added, “Besides, a person shouldn’t be expected to endure much more than about ten minutes of a program involving children.”

“Lee, try to stay focused for heaven’s sake,” Anna whispered, annoyed that Lee was such a distraction. “You’re worse than a fidgety child.”

The final song couldn’t have come any sooner as far as Lee was concerned. O Holy Night was performed by the combined grades and received a standing ovation. As soon as the program was over, and the crowd officially dismissed by Mr. Donovan, Lee marched directly for the refreshment table with the hope of soothing her irritation – and her weary behind. The long line that had already assembled didn’t deter her – she cut in, snatched two coconut macaroons from a plate, and turned to find Anna. “Pray till, there was a child in the choir that couldn’t carry a tune in a blessed bucket!” She tried, albeit a lame attempt, to keep her voice down. “Why is it that the ones who can’t sing are always placed right smack dab in front of a microphone, for crying out loud?”

“It was a wonderful program, Lee. They all performed well, and Jenna didn’t miss a beat.” Anna was determined to be the positive voice between the two, as they made their way out the front door and to the parking lot.

“Lord have mercy, it was an assault on the ears,” she complained. “Again, it’s why children should be seen and not heard.” She sighed loudly. “I don’t drink, but if I did…” Lee trailed off, still shaking her head as they walked toward the car to join the others.

 

Review of The House Guest

5star-shiny-webWhen Maggie Anderson Davis inherited the Victorian home where she grew up, it was with the anticipation of continuing the family legacy of mingling the familiar with the unexpected. Small town Tilden, Nebraska, becomes ever smaller at Maggie’s kitchen table where stories grow, memories are rehashed, and gossip fuels minds. With a neighbor like Lee, the opinionated and brassy outspoken voice of reason, there is always lively fodder for conversation. From homespun advice to openly chastising the traveling salesman famous for reneging on his room and board when he appears on his sporadic visits to Maggie’s bed and breakfast, Lee offers comic relief in this beautifully written tale. Though Maggie is the rightful owner of her home and business,  William Bouchard is determined to acquire sole ownership of the family home. In her fight to maintain the dignity and history of the property, Maggie is thrown into a battle of wills and the reality of greed.

Some people obviously do not understand the importance of tradition and customs. Unfortunately those people are often family. Deborah Norris has created a lovely tale of family and community in her novel The House Guest: Persuasions, Perspectives & Prejudices. This story is a reflection of old time grace and nostalgia. I enjoyed the author’s voice and colorful connections with the many visitors who came the way of Maggie’s table. The House Guest is the perfect novel to compliment a hot cup of tea on a rainy day. I loved this novel. ~ Reviewed By Lisa McCombs for Readers’ Favorite

Tell Me a Story

Fairy Palace against sunset sky / Panorama of Pena National Pal

Imagination opens the door to a world we never knew existed. ~ Deborah L. Norris

My mother loved to read, and I was often the happy recipient of her uncanny ability to bring a story to life. I would sit comfortably on her lap or plopped cross-legged on the floor in front of her chair to be whisked away to a faraway magical land.

The Velveteen Rabbit. I was completely engrossed in every word of Margery Williams’ delightful tale, allowing my young mind to imagine the well-worn little rabbit snuggling with the boy or his deep conversations with the Skin Horse. “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” Of course, this one quote opened up an entire world of fantasy for me. If this were true, then my entire stuffed animal and doll collections had the potential to become real also. It was a life-changing concept for an imaginative seven-year-old.

And then there was The Ugly Ducking by Hans Christian Andersen. Tears would quickly well in my eyes when my mother read of how the little duckling was ostracized by his siblings and other farm animals simply because he was different. The redeeming finale of ugly duckling transformed into beautiful swan never failed to bring a round of cheers.

Of course, Cinderella was my hero, both while she was a mistreated young step sister and later when she became a lovely princess. I knew that all things were possible when one simply believed, because Cinderella said so. Besides, she had Gus the mouse to substantiate her claims.

There was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and a score of other classics never to be forgotten and first introduced to me by my mother.

Now we fast forward to over fifty years and the same scene between mother and daughter is played out. But, this time the roles have reversed. My mother’s eyesight has diminished to such a degree that she is no longer able to read. At this season in her life, it’s my joy to read to her. She too hangs on every word, smiling as a magical story unfolds. I’m still reaping a blessed return on her incredible investment. The beautiful circle of life ~ it continues on.