[New York Times bestselling author Beth Hoffman wrote her acclaimed debut novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt (releasing in Trade Paperback October 26, 2010), based, in part, on childhood experiences. In today’s guest post, she proudly admits that everything she needed to know about life she learned in her grandmother’s kitchen.]
The formative years of my childhood were lived on my grandparents’ farm. It was a rural area and there weren’t any kids to play with. I was raised among the easy, unhurried ways of older women. From my garden-loving grandma, to the elderly widow who lived up the road and created hand-made paper dolls, each one made a powerful impression upon me.
I was exposed to the simple yet remarkable words of wisdom that came from interacting with women who had lived through decades that encompassed everything from the unspeakable hardships of the Great Depression to the unexpected joy of learning to drive a car at the age of 72. Those daily observations and interactions gave me a foundation that has held me up ever since. Never have I heard more profound truths than those that were spoken in my grandmother’s big old kitchen during the hot, humid days of canning season.
Then came the day that I entered first grade. From the moment I took my seat in that tiny classroom, I felt uncomfortable and awkward. Who were these squealing little people in lace-topped socks and crisp gingham dresses, and what on earth did I have in common with them? I was so accustomed to interacting with older women that the giggling language of girls my own age left me tongue-tied. It took me a long while to adjust to my classmates, and even after I did, I was always glad to return to my grandmother’s kitchen where, as far as I could tell, things just made a whole lot more sense.
When I left my career in interior design and set out to write a novel, it never occurred to me that I would draw so heavily on the simple but rich experiences I had with my grandmother and her friends. When a little girl named CeeCee arrived in my imagination and her story began to unfold, I knew the gals in my grandmother’s kitchen were precisely the kind of women that CeeCee needed during her summer of healing.
An email was forwarded to me not long ago, and as I read it, I kept nodding in agreement. I have no idea who wrote it, but it sums up so much of what I feel about friendship, and I’d like to share it.
Love waxes and wanes.
Colleagues forget favors.
Girlfriends are there no matter how many miles are between them. A girlfriend is never farther away than needing her can reach.
When you walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it for yourself, your girlfriends will be standing on the rim, cheering for you, praying for you, and waiting with open arms at the valley’s end. Sometimes, they’ll even break the rules and walk beside you. Or, they’ll come in and carry you out.
The world wouldn’t be the same without them, and neither would I.
When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible happiness and sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other.
Every day, we need each other still.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Melissa Senate’s The Love Goddess’ Cooking School in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Melissa Senate and The Love Goddess’ Cooking School. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.