Mother love is never old. Yesterday was my mother’s 98th birthday. She wasn’t present in bodily form; she passed into Glory 22 years ago.
Mother’s spirit hovered around me all day.
Goldie Leona Banks Brooks was no shrinking violet. Or pansy. She was more like the lantana and verbena that bloom in Texas most of the year. I doubt she’d delight in this comparison, but hear me out.
First, these hardy plants thrive in heat and drought and aren’t fussy about the soil. They add bold color to the garden and require zero tending. They’re dependable and determined, and they find a place to bloom, invited or not. They don’t give off fancy fragrances, but they don’t apologize either.
Mother’s favorite flower was the rose (with the orchid coming in a close second). I think she admired their delicacy, and I know she loved the scent of the rose. It’s a good thing she was neither a rose nor an orchid, fragile and fussy about her surroundings. She wouldn’t have managed as a Great Depression farm wife otherwise. Nor would she have survived twenty-five trying years of widowhood, holding onto the home and farm land she and Daddy worked so hard to acquire.
January 17th appears on the calendar each year, and I return to memories of growing up as Goldie’s girl. She had always wanted a daughter, but by 1941 she had given birth to three boys and buried one. So when in 1946 her doctor confirmed she was expecting another child, all she could think were girl thoughts.
Thereafter, she made a pest of herself among church friends, asking them to pray for Goldie to have a girl. (Truthfully, they learned to run the other way when they saw her coming. 🙂 She threaded her days with incessant prayers of her own. Please give me a girl. Please give me a girl.
But in time she convinced herself it was better to build a wall of defense around her heart than to leave it exposed to disappointment. She entered the clinic to deliver her fourth child on the 5th day of September, telling herself she and Wilson were destined for a household of boys. (Would she have traded either of her precious boys for a girl? Never!) (Tweet That!)
So when the doctor announced, “It’s a girl,” she heard “It’s a boy.” She held tears in check until Daddy entered her room with a huge grin.
“What’re you crying about, Goldie?”
“Another boy.” Sniff, sniff.
“No. It’s a girl.”
“Stop teasing me.” Blub. Blub.
“Goldie, we have a girl.”
She shook her head and turned away.
The doctor entered the room. “You did it, Goldie. You got your girl.”
Wiping her face with the hem of a sheet, Mother sat up …
And the rest is … Well, it’s proverbial history packed with mother love and gratitude. And a lesson learned: Pray and expect a miracle.
Later, the preacher wrote to friends who had moved away: Praise the Lord! Wilson and Goldie have a girl! Little did anyone know at the time, but eleven years later, Goldie was to have another baby–a boy again, but–oh–how great was the rejoicing.
Indeed, Mother was like our Texas lantana and verbena. Strong. Stubborn. Self-sufficient. At times, overly so. She asked no one to wait on her or tend her. But on this, the day after her 98th birthday, how I wish I could.
Lord, how weak is our faith. We often pray, doubting. Help us to pray, trusting. For Jesus’ sake.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
The paths of the Lord lead straight to Him. His directions are perfect. Problem is, we don’t always take directions well, do we? Often we carve out our own way. We take detours over rocks and potholes, around sharp curves, and through dark tunnels where danger lurks. We want to follow His roadmap … but it isn’t always clear-cut … or is it?
Thankfully, the Lord has promised to take the crooked paths we submit to Him and make them straight: In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6
Our chat today is with Catherine Leggitt, an author who’s learned a lesson or two about God’s directions, not the least of which is the subject of her recent novel, The Road to Terminus.
Gather ’round, friends, for an intriguing author chat. And thank you for joining our circle.
Hi, Catherine. I’m so glad you could join our chat today.
~First, tell us about your latest novel, The Road to Terminus. (We’d like to know where the idea came from and a bit about the main characters.)
In a nutshell, here’s what the book is about: The paths of three strangers collide on a desperate road trip along Route 66. (Tweet That!) One is running away, one is racing the clock, and the child who binds their destiny merely hopes to survive.
One night in 2012 I dreamed about three strangers—a child, an older woman, and a fugitive—traveling in a car. When I awoke, I grabbed a pen and scribbled that idea down. Next morning I commenced pondering plot possibilities.
A close family member was grappling with addiction during that time. His struggle seemed unending and his battle for sanity had taken a toll on the rest of the family. Driving to an appointment one day, my husband Bob and I discussed the question of how many times a person must hit bottom before coming to that final place of surrender where change is the only option left. About then we spotted a sign for Terminous, California. Terminus means “the end of the road.” Suddenly, my emerging story had a name—The Road to Terminus. You might describe the plot as Pilgrim’s Progress meets The Perils of Pauline. (Tweet That!)
Childhood road trips in my mother’s green-and-yellow Pontiac station wagon created a fascination with historic Route 66. Why not a road trip along The Mother Road? Sort of a metaphor for the journey to sobriety and peace with God and Man. My husband unearthed a 1955 State Farm Road Atlas, which he purchased at an antique store some years earlier. The maps indicated the exact placement of old Route 66. Setting the story in 1955 eliminated the problem of modern law enforcement technology. With a fugitive to consider, I needed to decrease the likelihood of rapid capture.
Then one weekend we visited my brother-in-law in the Mohave Desert. “Coincidentally” a Route 66 classic car show was being held in Victorville. As I snapped pictures of awesome pre-1955 autos, I got the notion that Stryker (the child) and George (the fugitive) might connect around their mutual love of cars. Bob’s passion for classic cars too proved quite helpful with the automotive details of the novel. In the motion picture version of my book, I picture Robert Downey Jr. playing George. Not sure who would play Mabel (the older woman). Maybe Angela Lansbury, but she may be a tad too old. (Well, a girl can dream!)
~A few years ago you wrote a cozy mystery series entitled Payne & Misery, which will be reissued by Mountainview Books soon. They sound intriguing. Please tell us a little bit about them.
The three cozies are collectively called The Christine Sterling Mysteries, featuring Christine Sterling as the amateur sleuth. (Okay, she may also be my alter ego.) Christine and her husband retired to the small northern California community of Grass Valley just like we did. In each book, Christine stumbles upon a murder. (That part never happened to me! Thankfully!) With way too much time on her hands, Christine proceeds to investigate—in a bumbling, non-official capacity that always gets her in over her not-yet-gray head.
~According to your website, www.catherineleggitt.com, you’re not only a writer but an inspirational speaker. Tell us about your last speaking engagement.
Recently it was my privilege to speak at a women’s brunch in Acampo, CA. The attendees included a wide age range. The chosen theme centered on coffee, titled “Perfectly Blended.” Decorations created out of brown and white coffee filters, containers of coffee, coffee cups and posters festooned tables and walls. (Thank you, Pinterest!) My presentation, “The Perfectly Blended Life,” included the evolution of The Road to Terminus. After publication, God revealed that my own “addiction” to food held me in bondage in the same way my dear loved one was imprisoned by drugs. (Tweet That!) Last January, God led me to a new way of eating and living, which produced the release of about eighty pounds and vastly improved my health. Along with the physical blessings, I acquired a deeper relationship with God and mental serenity. I am free at last!
~One of your recent blog entries describes your recent “adventure” in the airport parking lot. Your transparency provides a way for readers to connect. Talk about transparency in your writing and speaking engagements.
The only type of writing or speaking that interests me includes life lessons and principles God is teaching me. I use story as the vehicle for creating interest. My heart’s desire is that everything I say or write would reflect God’s glory and give Him honor for what He has done. (Tweet That!) The best examples I know come from what He is teaching me. If I am to be honest, I must speak of these things. I know no other way to connect with readers or audiences.
~Certain parts of the country recently have been blanketed in snow. In other parts, air conditioners have run non-stop. Describe the weather in northern California today.
Rain was forecast today and some fell in the night. Now the sun is out again. Earlier this week the sun made it comfortable outdoors—probably in the 70’s. Compared to other parts of the country in winter, this area has moderate weather–although we do get four beautiful seasons–which I can’t say for where I grew up in southern California.
~What part do you sing in the church choir? Have you always loved to sing?
Presently I am a member of the alto section. Besides the church choir, I sing with a group of ten creatively called, “The Ensemble.” I’ve been singing at church since I was a child. In college, I received a music scholarship, which I used for private lessons and to sing with a choral group.
~What’s your favorite meal to eat? And to prepare?
Growing up on a farm, I discovered Mexican food from the family of workers who lived on our property. It remains by far my favorite food. LOVE chili rellenos! Melted cheese, yum!! Along with plenty of homemade tortillas. Of course, I no longer eat those things. So, I’d have to say these days my favorite meal to prepare is seafood (salmon, shrimp, or ahi tuna), brown rice, and vegetables (any kind).
~What can we anticipate from Catherine Leggitt in the near future?
I have a couple of ideas percolating. I plotted a fourth Christine Sterling Mystery—one where Christine must finally curb her meddling and snoopiness. I’ve also written a stand-alone book called Dying to Be Noticed, which awaits publication. I plan to revisit that novel soon and perhaps rework the beginning.
~Thank you so much for joining us today, Catherine. Where may readers find you and your books?
It’s been my joy and pleasure, Linda. Great questions! Thanks for inviting me. Readers can connect with me at my website, www.catherineleggitt.com.
Author Biography: Catherine Leggitt is an author and inspirational speaker. A native Californian born in the Bay Area, she raised two daughters, taught school, and cared for her aging parents in southern California before retiring to the north end of the state. Proud grandmother of six brilliant children, Catherine studies the Bible, reads about a book a week, serves as a leader in Bible Study Fellowship, and sings in the church choir. These days Catherine also crafts suspenseful and convoluted plots—exploring God’s mysteries through fiction.
Catherine’s first series, The Christine Sterling Mysteries, includes Payne & Misery, The Dunn Deal, and Parrish the Thought. Her debut novel won 2nd place at the Orange County Christian Writers Conference in May, 2010 and was published by Ellechor Publishing in 2011. Subsequently Ellechor published The Dunn Deal and Parrish the Thought in 2012. Mountainview Books released The Road to Terminus September 14, 2015. They plan to reissue The Christine Sterling Mysteries in 2016. Another standalone book, Dying to Be Noticed awaits publication.