Welcome Guest Blogger, Liz Flaherty

28 Sep

On September 28, 1935, my parents went to a minister’s house and got married. My dad wore a double-breasted suit and my mom had on a hat. They stayed married through the rest of the Great Depression and three wars, through the births of six children and the death of one at the age of three, through failing health and the loss of all their parents and some of my father’s siblings. Dad died in 1981, Mom in 1982. They were still married.

From the viewpoint of their youngest child, who was born in their early 40s when they thought they were finished with all that, it was the marriage from hell. I never saw them as a loving couple, never saw them laugh together or show affection or even hold hands. They didn’t buy each other gifts, sit on the couch together, or bring each other cups of coffee. The only thing I was sure they shared was that—unlike my husband and me—they didn’t cancel out each other’s vote on Election Day.

“Why on earth,” I asked my sister once, “did they stay together all those years? Mom could have gone home to her family, even if she did have to take a whole litter of kids. Heaven knows Dad could have.” (He was the adored youngest son and brother—he could do no wrong.)

Nancy gave me the look all youngest siblings know, the one that says, “Are you stupid?” When you’re grown up, it replaces the look that says, “You’re a nasty little brat.” But I regress.

“Don’t you get it?” my sister asked. Her blue eyes softened. So did her voice. “They loved each other. Always. They just didn’t do it the way you wanted them to.”


I remembered then. When they stopped for ice cream because Mom loved ice cream. How they sat the kitchen table across from each other drinking coffee. How thin my dad got during Mom’s long illness because “I can’t eat if she can’t.” When they watched Lawrence Welk reruns together and loud because—although neither would admit it—their hearing was seriously compromised.

And the letters. The account of their courtship. We found them after Mom’s death, kept in neat stacks. They wrote each other, in those days of multiple daily mail deliveries, at least once a day and sometimes twice. When I read those letters, I cried because I’d never known the people who wrote them.

I have to admit, my parents’ lives had nothing to do with why I chose to write romantic fiction. I got my staunch belief in Happily Ever After from my own marriage, not theirs. But how you feel about things and what you know—those change over the years.

As much as I hated my parents’ marriage—and I truly did hate it—I admire how they stuck with it. I’ve never appreciated the love they had for each other, but I’ve come to understand that it never ended. I still feel sorry sometimes for the little girl I was, whose childhood was so far from storybook that she wrote her own, but I’m so grateful to have become the adult I am. The one who still writes her own stories.

But—and this is the good part—these are the things I know.

Saying “I love you” doesn’t always require words. Sometimes it’s being unable to eat because someone else isn’t. Sometimes it’s stopping for ice cream. Sometimes—and I realized this the other day when my husband and I were bellowing “Footloose” in the car—it’s hearing music the same way, regardless of how it sounds to anyone else.

Marriage is different for different people. So is love. So is Happily Ever After.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.

Liz Flaherty is retired from the post office, she writes fulltime, and is having an astonishingly good time. She also makes quilts and talks her husband into traveling a lot more than he really wants to. She writes for Carina Press and Harbourlight Books. Visit her website at



Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Guest Blog, Idaho, romance


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39 responses to “Welcome Guest Blogger, Liz Flaherty

  1. Liz Flaherty

    September 28, 2012 at 6:03 AM

    Thanks so much for having me here. This is one of my favorite blogs!

  2. Kristina Knight

    September 28, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    Oh, Liz, you made me get teary and it’s barely 8 in the morning! I agree, as kids we don’t necessarily see the love between our parents or grandparents. I’m glad you got to see a glimpse later on, and I’m glad you’ve found your own happily ever after!

  3. Nan

    September 28, 2012 at 6:26 AM

    Liz, what a fascinating look at your parents’ marriage–it’s funny what we see and remember from our childhoods and how it’s not always what was really happening. I have so many moments like that. I barely remember much about my dad because he disappeared when I was about six, and for a long time my memories of my mom were compromised by my unwillingness to accept how very different she was from other people’s mothers. But now, I recall fondly how she skipped housework to read to us, how she took us beach camping and taught us all how to swim in the icy water of Lake Michigan, how she sang show tunes at the top of her lungs while she drove, and many other wonderful memories. Can’t wait for your new book!

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 28, 2012 at 9:15 AM

      Thanks, Nan. I remember that, wanting my parents to be like other parents were. I love what you remember, what you still feel.

  4. johannaharness

    September 28, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    Such a beautiful post, Liz. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

  5. Vonnie Davis

    September 28, 2012 at 6:53 AM

    A lovely post Liz with great insight. Not showing affection was also part of that generation. I’m relieved we can now hold hands even when we’re in our sixties, among other things. Love the cover to your book.

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 28, 2012 at 9:17 AM

      Thanks, Vonnie. As many world problems as there are, I’m happy to be this age in this time.

  6. Clarissa Southwick

    September 28, 2012 at 6:53 AM

    Liz, Thanks for reminding us that love takes so many forms. What a tribute to your parents.

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 28, 2012 at 9:23 AM

      Thanks, Clarissa. Writing it reminded me, too.

  7. Molly Daniels

    September 28, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    AMEN! I wanted the type of marriage my parents had, but sadly enough, didn’t get it. But, I’ve since discovered ‘I love you’ can be translated into ‘Here’s 40 lbs of meat from your favorite butcher’; ‘I’ll take the kids to school since the roads are slick’; and ‘I know I haven’t you gotten anything for a while; happy mother’s day and enjoy your Kindle Fire.’

    Or even a hug when either of us returns after an extended stay anywhere. And I’ve worried about the effect that’s had on my kids, but you just gave me hope that maybe I’ve NOT scarred them for life after all!

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 28, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      Sometimes all you need is enough to get you through the day, isn’t it, Molly? Thanks for coming by!

  8. J Flaherty

    September 28, 2012 at 7:52 AM

    More of this, please, Mom.

  9. Sandra Dailey

    September 28, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    Lovely post, Liz. I’m glad you came to understand your parents love.

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 28, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      I don’t know if I fully understand it yet, Sandra, but I’m learning. I’m learning.

  10. Janis McCurry

    September 28, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    Many forms, indeed. I have fond memories of my parents and grandparents and each relationship was vastly different, and some not for the better, IMO. But, as a current favorite saying goes, “It is what it is.” Thanks for coming to Gem State Writers, Liz.

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 28, 2012 at 9:26 AM

      Thanks, Janis! It’s fun being here. Like I said, this is one of my very favorite blogs.

  11. Peggy Staggs

    September 28, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    I think that sometimes expressions of love depend on time and place. Time in history. I remember in the 60’s on the Dick Van Dyke Show, they slept in separate beds, because you didn’t show that in public.
    Place. My Midwestern grandmother was fussy and cold. It wasn’t until I moved to California and my best friend’s grandmother showed me that grandmothers were supposed to be all warm and fuzzy. One grandmother had lived through the depression (mine) the other the holocaust (her’s.) Different times, different places. Amazing.

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 28, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      It is, isn’t it? What a gift human nature is.

  12. cherg

    September 28, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Wonderful post!


  13. Judith Keim

    September 28, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Beautiful blog, Liz…I was lucky. My parents set the example for a kind, loving, forever happily after marriage though both fought debilitating disease – MS for my mother, ALS for my father. And, yes, it scares me every time I stumble!! And I’m as lucky as they were in love. Still going strong…

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 28, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      More than luck, I’m sure, Judith. I’m sure it does scare you, but it sounds as though they passed something wonderful down to you.

  14. D'Ann Lindun

    September 28, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Lovely post. My parents are the opposite. They see only each other. My dad can fit his three daughters in his life, but my mother doesn’t seem able to have room for two of the three of us.

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM

      Thanks, D. Looking back, I think my dad could have coped better, relationship-wise, had there been fewer children, but like everyone says–things are what they are. Thanks for coming by.

  15. Lisa Rayns

    September 28, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Great post. The books look wonderful!

  16. MK Hutchins (@mkhutchins)

    September 28, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    This was beautiful — thanks for sharing.

  17. Stephanie Berget

    September 28, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    Liz, you brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for prodding my memories of my parents and grandparents relationships.

  18. Liz Flaherty

    September 28, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Thanks, Stephanie. How little we knew!

  19. Arsoleen Woolcock

    September 28, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    This was very touching and an enjoyable read. Sometimes love is shown in different ways, and sometimes we repeat what we see. I’m glad you’re living your happy ever after!

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 29, 2012 at 5:44 AM

      Thanks, Arsoleen. Something else people don’t realize, too, is how much work a Happily Ever After is. 🙂

  20. maryvine

    September 28, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    This is such a nice blog post, Liz. Due to my husband’s illness, our marriage has changed over the years, doesn’t look the same as it used to, but I still love him dearly.

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 29, 2012 at 5:45 AM

      I hope it’s happy, Mary, regardless of how it may “look.” Thanks for commenting.

  21. nan12jar

    September 29, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    That’s a very touching story, Liz. I think sometimes marriages might be misinterpreted because there was/is no outward showing of love. But, as you’ve beautifully expressed it, it shows in different ways.

    • Liz Flaherty

      September 29, 2012 at 1:04 PM

      Thank you. It’s definitely something I learned late and still sometimes have trouble accepting.


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