One of the biggest inspirations while I was writing Ryder was my neighbor, Fay.
She is the reason that Ryder's grandmother - Marti - even existed.
Fay was my neighbor for many years. A strong powerful woman full of love who quilted and took care of people. She was like a mother to me and my husband. She was a grandmother to my son.
Fay was one of the most inspirational women to have an impact on my life.
She comforted me when I was sad. She believed in me. She would wrap her arms around me when I was having a bad day, would listen to my gripe about work, and always had the right answers.
They don't really make women like Fay anymore.
After my husband graduated college he got a job in Birmingham and we had to move away from Fay. Of course we tried to keep in touch but life happens and sometimes you forget to write home.
A couple of months ago we got a phone call. Fay asked my husband to be her pallbearer. It wasn't the kind of call we were expecting.
We saw Fay back in January. It was one of the toughest days in my life. I had never said goodbye to someone like Fay. I had never said goodbye to anyone.
I wanted to tell Fay about Marti. I wanted her to know how much of an inspiration she was to me. And I did. And I cried. And Fay put her arms out and told me to 'Come Here'. She made me sit in her lap as she rocked my like a child. I felt like I was within the pages of Love You Forever.
I told Fay everything. And the most important thing I wanted her to know was how much I loved her. We don't say it enough in my family. Growing up I rarely heard it from my parents. That's just the way we are. We know it but we don't come out and say it. We're a rough kind of people. But while I was a neighbor to Fay she would always tell her sons "Love You" when they were leaving. This was foreign to me and one day I asked her why she did that. She told me that she wanted that to always be the last thing they heard from her just in case something happened.
And as we said our final goodbyes before we got into the car, Fay wrapped her arms around me as I cried into her neck and she said, "Remember, I love you."
And that's the last thing that Fay said to me.
We got the phone call on Tuesday that our Fay had passed away. And even though she's gone... I'll always remember that she loves me.
Love you Fay! Love you!