Loving to the End: Caring For Our Elders at Christmas
In Let It Snow, Marcus’s mother is in the Logan Care Center. She has Alzheimer’s, and while she’s doing somewhat okay at the moment, Marcus knows this is probably the last Christmas she’ll be able to remember.
I lost my grandfather this year, and now have one grandmother, his wife, left of all my grandparents. My grandparents have almost all lived into their nineties, and of those all but one were lucid until all but the last days. My paternal grandfather had dementia as part of his Parkinson’s disease, and visiting with him was very hard. He’d be talking about years past or try to go out and plow the field or ask for his son to go do the chores. And yet every so often he would be the man I remembered, like someone flashing on and off inside.
My maternal grandfather fought tooth and nail against going into any kind of assisted care, and once he was placed there he lasted little more than a month before he passed away. I understood his reticence. Care centers always have an eerie sense of looming death, if not literal at least of spirit. There is always the little old lady who screams whenever anyone walks by—nothing is wrong with her, this is simply how she communicates now. Bodily functions of all kinds become a challenge; ablutions require assistance. It’s not a state anyone envies, and becoming that person, the one waiting patiently for death, is hard to accept.
I had the most fun in the novel writing the part where Frankie becomes voluntary hairstylist to the women of the nursing home. I know few care centers have the “beauty parlor” as they used to, that the kind of tender treatment he gives the Logan Care Center ladies is rare if it happens at all. I always say I want to sit with people in the care center, to be the person who gives them an extra moment of attention, but I admit I all to often never put that thought into action.
When my daughter was very young, we would take cookies to the care center and walk around distributing them. The joy such a simple gesture gave always moved me—it was hard, too, because usually they wanted to talk, to keep me there for the attention, for the chance to be seen and heard, and I could rarely afford that kind of stop.
I can’t promise I’ll be visiting the Ames area care centers this holiday season, even though I probably should. It’s hard, even more so now when those visits make me think of my own lost love ones. I’ll send the Frankie of my heart instead, because as usual, my characters are far braver than me.
Let It Snow
The weather outside is frightful, but this Minnesota northwoods cabin is getting pretty hot.
Stylist Frankie Blackburn never meant to get lost in Logan, Minnesota, but his malfunctioning GPS felt otherwise, and a record-breaking snowfall ensures he won’t be heading back to Minneapolis anytime soon. Being rescued by three sexy lumberjacks is fine as a fantasy, but in reality the biggest of the bears is awfully cranky and seems ready to gobble Frankie right up.
Marcus Gardner wasn’t always a lumberjack—once a high-powered Minneapolis lawyer, he’s come home to Logan to lick his wounds, not play with a sassy city twink who might as well have stepped directly out of his past. But as the northwinds blow and guards come down, Frankie and Marcus find they have a lot more in common than they don’t. Could the man who won’t live in the country and the man who won’t go back to the city truly find a home together? Because the longer it snows, the deeper they fall in love, and all they want for Christmas is each other.
About the Author
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there.
When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state’s LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.