Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Blasting the Past


This blog is a rerun from five years ago, and still as true today as it was then. I hope you enjoy! I have a wedding anniversary coming up in a couple of days so it’s a good time for it. 🙂

*  *  *

As a writer, I’ve had to become an observer of life. You know, watch people, ask questions, peek into windows when no one’s looking. It’s all part of my job.

Okay, that’s a lie. I became a writer so I’d have an excuse because I’m incurably curious. (I never bought the cat story. I think someone ran over it and they blamed it on curiousity.)

BUT (and this is the truth) as a romance writer, I’ve had to observe relationships between couples. I need to know what it is that makes them good and what makes them not so good.

It hasn’t been as hard as you might think to find a perfect marriage to observe. I had a front row seat. No, I’m not talking about my marriage, although it’s pretty darn good. I’m talking about my parents’ marriage.

At 18, my mom married my 19 year old father, who was a college student at the time. Two years later, I was born. And their marriage was the closest to perfect I’ve ever seen. My dad gives my mom all the credit.

That’s when I get curious. Where’d my mom learn to be a nearly perfect wife? As the middle of 7 children, her mom didn’t take extra time out to teach her, although she set a great example. (There’s a family legend about Grandma scarring Granddad for life by whacking him across the knuckles with a butcher knife for bugging her one night when she was trying to cook. I don’t know if that’s truth or not.)

Back to my mom. She was beautiful, young and active until the day she died. When I was 10 or 12, she beat the pants off me in a foot race. By the time she was 36 she had 6 kids, and always swore she and Dad had planned all six. (I’ve heard other stories, but for now we’ll stick with that one.)

When Mom was 38, she opened a dress shop, although she’d never worked in one. (She was tired of sewing.) And the shop was a great success. People came from towns all around to shop there.

When she was about 50, she got her pilot’s license at the same time my little brother got his. Yep, my mom was a ninety-niner. She never met a stranger, and let very few people leave our house without a meal and an invitation to come back.

She liked my boyfriend(s) almost as much as I did, and I half suspected some of them dated me because they liked being around her.

Oh, and my mama loved her family. No matter what happened, no matter what we’d done, we knew we were loved. She loved having her children come home.

When grandchildren came along, Mom was always there for the delivery. She decided she didn’t want to be a grandma or grandmother, so she chose the name Grandmommie for herself. Naturally, my dad became Granddaddy.

When my kids were small, my family moved to Pryor, Oklahoma. (Now the home of Country Fever. <G>) On my youngest son’s 3rd birthday, only one of his friends were going to be able to come to his party. They all sent gifts, but for some reason didn’t want to give up vacations and other “important” things they’d already planned.

I couldn’t believe my baby was only going to have one kid at his party. Can you imagine how traumatized he would have been if no one had come? That morning, as soon as I realized we were going to have such a small party, I called Mom.

She gathered up the Cleveland cousins, dashed to the store for gifts (WRAPPED gifts) and drove them all to Pryor. Brad had all the people he loved best around him, so he never knew the party wasn’t as we’d planned it.

By the time Matt was 5, he could dial long distance to talk to Grandmommie.

The weekend before Mom died was Mother’s Day. My kids and I went home and she (again) gathered up all the grandkids so we could go fishing. We had cold weinies, dry bread and chips for lunch and the most fun I’d had in a long, long time. I connected with my 3 year old neice, Annabeth, for the first time. Her mama, Amy, was pregnant and due any minute, so Aunt SueSue taught Annabeth to fish. She thought I was great.

Don’t you love it when that happens?

And the whole time, Mom/Grandmommie was there, baiting hooks, taking off fish, helping cast and getting kids loose when their lines got snarled in the underwater weeds. Dad came by for lunch and dug a few worms for us when we ran out of minnows.

We lost Mom and Annabeth as well as Amy’s baby, Lydia, Grandmother and Aunt Phyllis the next Monday morning when they were hit head on by a drunk driver.

Not one of Mom’s children felt a need to apologize for something when she died. She made sure we took care of “those matters” when they happened.

If you were mad, she said, “You have the same shoes to get glad in.”

If you were upset– “Get over it.”

She took care of her own mother until she died, the November before Mom did. She didn’t harbor hurt feelings or grudges. And she knew that when a new child came into a family, you didn’t divide your love. You multiplied it.

Because of my parents, perfect marriages are easy for me to write. But they don’t make for interesting books, so I use them as goals, not facts.

Mom told me a long time ago she knew I could be a writer if I wanted to. I said, “As good as ____?” (A writer we both new and liked.)

She just smiled. “Better.”

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

7 thoughts on “Blasting the Past

  1. I love this blog. You always say things beautifully! Oh how blessed we were! I pray I can bless my grandchupildren as much as Mom blessed kours!

  2. Congrats Susan! Peace Jaz

  3. How heart warming. Lovely post, filled with love and compassion. May all mothers be like your Mom. Sorry for your lost, but what awesome memories to carry with you.

I'm so glad you dropped by my Small Town World! Hope you'll leave a comment. I really enjoy hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s