On becoming a ‘grampa’ again . . .

If you push yourself, the drive from Hibbing to Naples is a three-day marathon:  to someplace near Effingham in Illinois on the first day, to someplace near or  Atlanta –avoid rush hour (5 am until 9 pm) at all costs– on the second day, and then twelve hours down I-75 to southwestern Florida on day three.  On this trip, however,  I spent three days in Chattanooga  visiting Chris and Susan and my three grandkids there.  A wonderful time in a truly interesting, pretty, and dynamic city nestled in the mountains of far eastern Tennessee.  It would be easy to settle in Chattanooga.  One night we all went up to historic Lookout Mountain and enjoyed a Christmas lights show that was truly spectacular.  The entire trip was something very much resembling that of Father Mickey Moran in the marvelous novel, ‘A Passage of Redemption’.

Since my arrival here, I’ve settled in quite comfortably in a little condo that is a few short  blocks from the Gulf.  Naples has become a familiar place as this is my fourth season  in southwestern  Florida.  I can now regard the tropical, tourist-bustling city as my home away from home.  This year, however, is going to be something very special.  My daughter Erin is expecting a baby at the end of April and I’ll be here to greet my new granddaughter.  Yes, I learned only yesterday that my sixth grandchild will be a girl!  Jim and Erin are keeping her name to themselves for now, but the new nursery they are planning will have plenty of pink.  I’m delighted–beyond words, excited! What blessings I have been given, like my kids, each of my grand children is wonderfully unique.  My family is truly my most wonderful treasure.

On another note, I’m beginning another story.  Already, in my second week down here, I’ve had several false starts.  I’m always frustrated by the initial tendency to contrive–to give MY direction and insight to a story that I don’t even know.  I’ve wanted to do a baseball story for some time and I find myself wanting to tell my characters what they should be doing in order to make that happen.  WRONG!   I know better than that,  but still . . . it’s like taking my eye off the ball before swinging . . .  What I do have already are the basics:  some familiar characters, familiar  settings, and the element of time.  (It will be contemporary and it will feature Father Mickey) What has to happen now is simple:  let them all go and let them create the story.  I’ll be their medium, their voice, and their everything else.  By now I know most of them well enough to trust them, others that they encounter along the way will become as familiar as they want to become.  The story will pick up from the last one (though not necessarily a sequel) and begin somewhere up north.  Enough said.

I’m beginning to get that Christmas  ‘feeling’ despite the lack of snow and frosty windows and all that my nostalgia brings to mind.  It’s not easy to do.  I’ve had too many Christmas eves and days in beautiful northern Minnesota.  But, Christmas is about family and I have Erin and Jim and Jack and Jim’s three adult kids to share that special day with.  May your Christmas be merry and bright and filled with love.  God bless . . .

Before signing off, allow me to p.s. a brief commercial.  Remember, a book is a gift worth giving, and an author-signed book is a treasure.  My books are available on this website, Howard Street Booksellers in Hibbing, and Irma’s Finland House in Virginia. Amazon works, too.

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