Many characters in my novel, The Light in Bailey’s Harbor, were inspired by some very dear people in my life.

Mina is a German immigrant and the great aunt of Katy’s dear friend, Inger Hendricks. She has recently come to America to help the large Hendricks family manage a family crisis. The inspiration for Mina came from my Grandmother, Euleen Minor.  Mama, as we call her, was one of my biggest fans, where my writing was concerned.

scan0008For a young girl who had trouble finding someone to listen to her “too many words” (my excuse for not being able to hush when I was little), Mama was a sight for sore ears.

Loved this front porch of Mama's house. To me, it will always be a place of love and acceptance.
Loved this front porch of Mama’s house. To me, it will always be a place of love and acceptance.

She was a true listener and a true encourager.  She listened to my countless little stories or poems, and when I finished (no matter how corny they really were) she managed to give some type of positive comment. And after recently finding a box of my early writings, I now realize how deeply she had to dig for some of those comments.

Here’s an excerpt from my novel–observations of Inger, regarding her Aunt Mina:

Aunt Mina sat on a quilt spread on the grass with Marta in her lap and Gilda standing behind her—chubby arms wrapped lovingly around her shoulders. Inger’s heart warmed at the sound of her laughter. Mina was a marvel. She couldn’t find the words to fully describe the love that already filled her heart for this aunt who had just arrived, but three things she did know: Aunt Mina was full of life and full of love—she was a gift.

One of the hardest things for me right now is knowing that the grandmother who inspired such words, now struggles to voice her own.  Mama just turned 85 in July and is now in a nursing home.  She has good days and bad.  Many days she doesn’t speak and doesn’t know the members of her family.  But our last visit was such a gift.  She knew me and knew my boys.  She even had enough clarity to make fun of my sense of direction…haha!

Mama reading with Carson.
Mama reading with Carson.

It’s possible that Mama may never live to see the day I become an author, but I can honestly say I won’t cherish that publication day more than those precious moments on the front porch or around the dining room table where Mama validated the hopes and dreams of her grandchildren, giving us the tools to go out and build our own dreams and futures.

I’ll never forget the scripture she drove deep in our hearts: John 21:22 “And Jesus saith unto them…What is that to thee? Follow thou me…” She taught us to forget the petty comments of others, the worries that bog us down, and the road blocks that detour us from our God-given goals.

Yes, she was full of life, full of love.  Mama was–and still is–a gift.