It’s the phone call every child of older parents dreads and one I thought I had received back in February this year. My mother’s husband phoned me to say “You have to take your mother out for coffee…NOW!”
In itself, that might seem an innocuous request, but if you knew my mother, your internal alarms would be clanging and jangling at a great rate. Mum doesn’t “do coffee”, not because she’s antisocial but because it’s simply not her. Normally, we have a chat in her back garden and inspect her latest vegetable crop or she drops in to inspect how the chickens are doing here. A summons to coffee with Mum is therefore cause for expecting the worst, possibly something terminal.
When I arrived at our coffee appointment, I found a shell of a woman who was shaking like a leaf (again not dear Mama) and I was all set to phone for an ambulance. My mother of course refused my terrifying offer and thrust a $50 note in my hand so that I could buy the coffee. The moment I sat down, she blurted it out and here’s how the conversation began:
You remember the baby that died when we lived in (country town in Australia), well he didn’t die. Your father and I adopted him out because I couldn’t cope and he phoned me yesterday.
YOU DID WHAT??????????
I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of the rest of the conversation, but suffice to say I was more than a little shocked. Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t suddenly reach over and strangle mother for having told me at a sensitive age that the baby had died (I was eight-years-old at the time). Nor did I scream at her “I spent my school holidays that year searching for his grave at the cemetery, you evil witch!” No, I didn’t feel anything but relief that nobody had died – at first.
In the following weeks, after I finally spoke with David (not his real name) and automatically clicked with him, I struggled with what seemed to be an insurmountable heartache as I thought about what had transpired. For all of my life, I had told people that I was one of seven children but that the youngest had died at birth. Even at a young age, it had been important to me to recognise the child I never grew up with, perhaps selfishly or perhaps over-emotionally; I don’t know. Regardless, that little baby has been a part of me since I was eight.
At the time my mother dropped her bombshell, I was in the throes of completing my five novel Historical Romance series. I had finished Book #4 and was already plotting out the last book when we did coffee. The first thing that went out of the window was my ability to write, because at every opportunity I would find myself bursting into tears and wandering around the property in a right state. It affected me so much (and so surpisingly) that I couldn’t eat or sleep and I spent hours questioning (and at times yelling at) the stars. Even the dogs got saturated every time they came up for a pat. I couldn’t tell you exactly why I cried so much, because I wasn’t angry with my parents for making the decision they did. Of course, I was pretty cheesed off that they had both seen fit to take their secret to their graves, but upon reflection I accepted their reasons for doing so; I wasn’t them at the time and it’s not my judgement call.
I was still a mess when David invited me to visit with him. His words were “Why don’t you put some petrol in the car and drive over?” As he lived a thousand miles away and money was tight, this was no mean feat, but we did it. With the three rescued greyhounds boarded and the chickens on long term feeders, off my husband and I went to meet my baby brother for the first time. The fact that David is twice my size and a foot taller didn’t change the fact that he was and will always be the baby. I armed myself with childhood photos, a hundredweight of tissues and the shot nerves of a middle aged nitroglycerine researcher before finally arriving at his house.
Romance Readers & Writers - if you want to know what HEA really feels like, I can tell you that I have been to the mountain!
Yes, David and I hit it off within seconds of meeting. We looked at each others’ faces and saw ourselves, while I cried a river and he hugged me. His family is amazing and so very supportive of his decision to find out where he came from, and I now have a wonderful new sister-in-law, niece and nephew.
Upon returning home, I realised that in less than two weeks I had been transported from heartache to joy by the mere fact that things had never been as I had thought they were. Blissfully unaware of the truth, I had spent nearly forty years of my life thinking that things were one way when they were not. As I finally came to terms with this knowledge, I began to understand that I no longer needed to worry about the past - the past already is, regardless of how we perceive it. With that understanding came a feeling of great liberation. In one simple phone call to contact his biological family, my youngest brother David had handed me the answer that I had been seeking for all of my adult life.
Don’t worry about anything apart from the present and what is to come – the past is already set in stone regardless of your understanding of it.
Book number five just fell out of me (and yes, it involved the heroine’s search for a long lost brother), and I was unconcerned when I received my proofs and realised that several thousand commas had to be removed. Nor was I bothered when the covers looked terrible – after all, I could simply consign them to the past and replace them with better ones (which I did). Mountains became molehills and tears became smiles as I realised how blessed I was in having a brother who had survived childhood and was simply a really nice bloke. Self confidence I didn’t think I had suddenly appeared. It told me that I was a good author and that my books were worthy of sharing with others, so in April this year I finally published them.
You might wonder why I am sharing this with you, but I wanted you tell you from first hand experience that inspiration comes from the most improbable situations or people at times. If you are struggling with your craft or with a personal matter that is affecting how you write, think about me and David. Whatever you think has brought you to this point in your life might not be as you see it – perhaps things are totally different to what you believe. It really doesn’t matter, because you were born to follow your own dreams and you should follow them regardless. Be that writer NOW, regardless of your previous attempts, successes or failures, and put everything else aside to make it happen. Most importantly, understand that HEA doesn’t only belong in Romance Novels – it has a place in all of our lives and it can come when you least expect it.
This blog post has been written to inspire somebody (anybody) and nothing else. If you want to know about my books, please visit Amazon or Goodreads for now – I shall wait a week to post them as I want to share this story with as many of you as I can before I become all commercial again.
The next time you struggle with your story, think about mine and you will have a wonderful day! (Trust me, I have six siblings so I should know)
Above all else, have a great day!