Wednesday, February 05, 2014

More Than Words

by Brandilyn Collins

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling author of nearly 30 books. She is best known for her Seatbelt Suspense®--fast-paced, character-driven suspense with myriad twists and an interwoven thread of faith. She also writes insightful contemporary novels, often laced with humor. Brandilyn is also a frequent teacher and keynote speaker at writers conferences. You can read the first chapters of all her books on her website. She loves to interact with readers on Facebook. On Twitter she’s @Brandilyn.

There’s a time to write and a time to live. Writing feeds the living. Living feeds the writing.

For the past twelve days I’ve been visiting my 97-year-old mother, Ruth Seamands (known to many around the world as Mama Ruth). Mom has been our family’s Energizer Bunny. She’s the fun, amazing woman who had her ears pierced at 65, parasailed at 84, got braces at 88, and went for her first motorcycle ride at her 90th birthday party. But now her heart has worn itself out. She’s gone into atrial fibrillation and has been placed on hospice. We don’t expect her to be with us much longer.

During the past two weekends all of the family came—from all areas of the country—to say their thank-yous, I-love-yous and goodbyes to Mom. Her four daughters were there, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. God was wonderfully gracious to give us this special time with her.

Because I stayed over both weekends, I visited Mom with all of the various family members. I witnessed most of their goodbyes—each one of them hard. Walking away from my beloved mother myself was wrenching. I can’t imagine life without her. And yet I am thrilled to know she will soon be in Heaven and with God, whom she has served all her life. Now she can barely see, hears poorly, and is frail. In Heaven she will be stronger than she’s ever been. Perfected. What a wonderful promise for me and my family to cling to at this time.

My mother was a writer. She wrote a few novels later in life. But her first books--Missionary Mama, and later House by the Bo Tree (now out of print)--were nonfiction, stuffed with tales of her life in India as a missionary with my father. It also includes the story of their meeting. (“That’s the man I’m going to marry,” Mom thought at first sight of my dad. Second thought: “Ruth, that’s the dumbest thing you’ve come up with yet.”) Not to mention dodging Japanese ships on the way home from India during WWII, wildcats in the attic, poisonous snakes in the rafters, scorpions in shoes, and centipedes on pillows, to name a few occurrences. Throughout all the stories runs the theme of God’s love and care. How He calls His children to live for Him—and how fulfilled their lives become when they obey. Even when things get more than a little crazy.

Mom has been weak, yes. But she wanted to see her family one last time. And she rallied for those visits, finding the breath to recount many of these hair-raising events.

I’ve heard these stories all my life. But this time I knew each would be the final telling. And hearing them in the presence of Mom’s grandchildren and great grandchildren was especially touching. They’d heard some of them before, too. I could see they were all struck by the amazing life my mother had lived—and by the power and strength she had through God.

Later I heard that one of the grandchildren read Missionary Mama—twice—on the day he returned home. Again he was struck by the theme of God’s leading in the stories. That theme made him take a hard look at his own life—and changes he should make.

Writing feeds the living.

As a novelist, I am forever soaking in data from the world. How a cold item crackle-feels, the warble of a bird, the taste of tension in a room, the gait of a despairing man. While listening to Mom’s tales, I reveled in the entire scene—the flicker of reminiscence across her beautiful face, the catch of her voice. The way her hands moved across her collar. The stillness of her family members as they listened with this-is-the-last-time intensity.  I, too, felt the power in her stories and thanked God for the amazing heritage I have.

Now I am back home. The memories of my visit are fresh. Raw. Too nascent to work into a novel. But they will age, seep into my fiber to become a soul part of me. In time, in some story of my own, these cherished memories will find a way to surface in the life of a character. Perhaps more than one. And I can only hope my own stories—though fictional—will be half as moving as the true events that inspired them.


Living feeds the writing.

Dark Justice

If I’d had any idea what those words would mean to me, to my mother and daughter, I’d have fled California without looking back. 

While driving a rural road, Hannah Shire and her aging mother, who suffers from dementia, stop to help a man at the scene of a car accident. The man whispers mysterious words in Hannah’s ear. Soon people want to kill Hannah and her mother for what they “know.” Even law enforcement may be involved.

The two women must flee for their lives. But how does Hannah hide her confused mother? Carol just wants to listen to her pop music, wear her favorite purple hat, and go home. And if they turn to Hannah’s twentyseven- year-old daughter, Emily, for help, will she fall into danger as well?

Pressed on all sides, Hannah must keep all three generations of women in her family alive. Only then does she learn the threat is not just to her loved ones, but the entire country . . .

14 comments:

Ron Estrada said...

Oh BC, I'm sorry to hear this. I only met your mother once at an ACFW conference (my first). In fact, I sat at the table with you, her, and Gina Holmes. Her and Gina were in a conversation about Gina's chosen genre of supernatural Christian fiction. It was fun to listen to. Obviously, Gina chose a different genre, but I'll never forget those few moments of sitting with three such wonderful ladies. I do hope I get to hear some of those stories one day when we all meet in heaven. God bless you and your family.

Gina Holmes said...

Brandilyn, I was moved to tears. I don't know if it's a bigger blessing to have lost my mom suddenly or to have known how short our time was. What's always touched me about your relationship with your mom is that you know how blessed you are to have her for a mom. Praying for you, Ruth and your family in the days to come. Hugs my friend.

Ane Mulligan said...

Mama Ruth was to me a living example of "life more abundant," for she know how to live! Her love for Jesus shone out of every pore. I was so blessed to have known her and shared with her at a few ACFW conferences. Praise God we can spend eternity with her, hearing all her stories.

Michael Ehret said...

What a treat to have known Mama Ruth, even in the small way I did. And what another treat to see a photo of her today and be reminded of her incandescence. Bless you Brandilyn, and bless your dear mother.

Martha W. Rogers said...

Oh my, Brandilyn. I am saddened to hear this because we'll no longer have her sweet spirit here, but rejoice to know she'll be re-united with your dad. I love Mama Ruth and it has been a privilege to know her. What an encourager she has been with the love of Jesus shining in her eyes and her smile. She will be greatly missed by all who have known or even met her. What a blessing to be able to be there and say your good-byes. Prayers for you and your family in the days ahead.

Suzan Robertson said...

Brandilyn, you and your family are in my prayers. Hugs.

Brandilyn Collins said...

Thanks to all of you for your sweet comments.

Jaylene Shrader said...

I'm sorry, Brandilyn, that the loss of your inspirational, so close to each of you, mother is very near. Your words in this blog, and looking back on your Facebook timeline to see pictures and read your words about your mother, you and everyone in your family, has blessed me very much . . . and at the same time made me ache deeply in my heart for you, your sisters and your families. I don't know such loss, i.e., being with a parent during this process and cannot begin to imagine the depths of it. Your words on here are so touching and I can picture events so easily since you are so very skilled at writing (skilled is not enough of a word or words to describe your writing and its appreciation I have for it). My prayers continue on. God hold each one of you gently in His love. Thank you for sharing this blog, Brandilyn. ~ Jaylene

Ian Acheson said...

Oh Brandilyn, what a lovely tribute to your mom. Wonderful that the family were able to celebrate your mom's life and honour her with such a gathering. Be assured of my prayers for you and your family.

Nicole said...

It hurts so much to lose them. I know. Your Mama Ruth has blessed so many. Indeed what a legacy. An honorable woman preserved until her mansion was ready. So very sad for you, BC. For the empty space created by the coming loss. Picturing her with her Savior . . .

Case Miler said...

My heart aches to hear such news...but leaps with joy with what an inspiration she is to many...it must have been amazing to know her all your life...you're so blessed!

Kathy Harris said...

Brandilyn, your mom is an amazing woman and she raised an amazing daughter. May you and your family be blessed with the faith and comfort of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Mary Beth Dahl said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I'm still crying and deeply thankful. I will be thinking about this for a very long time. Thank you.

Brandilyn Collins said...

Thank you, Mary Beth, and all.