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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Melissa McClone: A Real Life HEA

When I first started writing—back in the days when Silhouette existed and Amazon didn’t—I thought a happily ever after (HEA) ending meant a declaration of love from the hero and heroine followed by a marriage proposal. Then a wonderful editor told me that my HEA needs more. She said when a reader reaches “The End” they should believe the couple is in it for the long haul no matter what happens after the story ends.

Talk about a light bulb moment for this newbie romance author! I’ve tried to take the advice to heart on my subsequent titles. As I have, I've also noticed my personal view of HEAs has changed as I've gone from a single-twentysomething aspiring writer to a married-with-three-kids published author.

When I heard the song Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran a few months ago, I tried imagining the hero and heroine of my then work-in-progress saying similar words to each other. At first I couldn't. Oops, but during rewrites I finally got to the point where they could, and I knew I had the HEA I needed. For those who haven’t heard the song, here’s the video:



Today at the funeral for my sister’s mother-in-law, I saw a real life HEA. Two people who made a seventy-three year marriage work. Seventy-three years! Talk about the long haul! Ed Sheeran sings about seventy. This couple was in their nineties. I asked my brother-in-law if I could blog about his parents who I first met in 1991, and he said yes. He thought his mom would have loved that.

Wilma graduated from college in 1943. That same year she married Herald. They had four children. Her youngest (my brother-in-law) was born when she was forty-two. Herald was a minister so Wilma kept busy as his wife and raising children. She taught speech. She loved singing and playing instruments, too. Once the grandbabies, then the great grandbabies arrived, well, let’s just say, they were her joys, and I looked forward to the pictures she sent with her Christmas cards!

When I arrived at the funeral home with my oldest daughter, my sister greeted us. She mentioned the photos set out on a nearby table and how one of them amazed her—a black and white photo of a much younger Wilma and Herald in a passionate embrace. By the time my sister got married, her in-laws were in their seventies so this was a new way of seeing them. I found the photo, and it was a romance cover worthy embrace.

During the service, Wilma’s children spoke about the last few months of her life. Wilma couldn’t always remember things or people, including Herald. Once as she was sitting next to him on the loveseat, she asked if he was really her husband. Upon being told yes, she said then it was okay for them to hold hands. Another story was how Herald had described Wilma shuffling across the floor, but how she used to run and play. When Herald said goodbye to her at the casket, I had tears running down my face. I can’t remember his exact words, but he mentioned he’d be seeing her sometime.

Was Wilma and Herald’s life perfect? No life is, but through seventy-three years of good times and bad times (including the loss of a son and a grandson), their faith and love stayed strong.

For me, HEA means no matter what life throws at you, you and your beloved will get through it together. And in the case of Wilma and Herald, now separated by death, their love will remain until the "sometime" Herald mentioned when they'll be together again.

What does a “happily ever after” mean to you when you read a romance novel? I’ll randomly pick one commenter to win a mystery swag pack that includes an autographed book and other fun stuff.

If you want to know more about Melissa and the books she writes, check out her website. Be sure to sign up for her newsletter there, if you want to know about new releases and sales.

47 comments:

Mary Preston said...

My parents were married for 66 years. They had known each other as children. In fact my father first proposed when he was sixteen & my mother fourteen. He proposed again ten years later after WWII.

A HEA in life & fiction is not just about the love & passion, but about truly liking the other person too.

Janine said...

I loved this post today. Wilma and Herald were the ideal couple we all dream about being.

Tanya Phillips said...

What a great tribute to Wilma. I love the idea of love for the long haul.

dstoutholcomb said...

Wonderful story! I think the HEA means the couple will make it--against anything, with love. Through good times, difficult, and the boring minutiae of every day common life.

rondadoug said...

Sometimes it takes more than 1 try for HEA...Third time was the lucky one for me..That is a beautiful tribute to Wilma & Herald...Marriage is hard work!!! On both parts :)

melissa McEntyre said...

A nice tribute to an amazing couple

Connie said...

My husband and I have been married for 48 years. We have shared many wonderful and some sad times, but we've always clung together to make it through. Laughing at things and letting things roll off are key to "keeping it real." It's not always easy, but I can say we have fun together every day. Never stop talking and sharing!! That's the true HEA.

Janis Petzold said...

Wilma and harold reminded me of my paternal grandparents. My dad's parents were married for 72 years before my framdpa passed and then grandma died a few years later. this is so wonderful.

Jane Nelson said...

Your story of the love Wilma and Herald shared reminded me of my grandparents. My grandparents met when she was 13 and he was 14 yrs. old. They eloped as soon as Gram was 18 because my great grandfather did like my grandad! They were married for almost 60 yrs. when my gram passes away. She was 76yrs. old and grandpa would go to the cemetary EVERY morning to talk to gram. He died last year at 93yrs. old and with his last breath he told my mom he was going to see gram and they would be together again. That's what an HEA is to me! And now I'm crying! Hahaha!

Jan Jackson said...

Thank you for sharing this. It reminded me of the two great love stories I know. My grandparents: WW & Nettie McMicken and my Uncle George & Aunt Mary Holbert. My grandparents were 20 years apart in age but were married for over 50 years and had 8 children. My mother was the baby. My Aunt Mary was a WW2 bride and they were married over 50 years. Even though they were never able to have children, they were both school teachers and she was like a mom to me. To me, HEA is about overcoming obstacles and remaining committed to one another no matter what occurs. I've been married to my HEA Hero for 26 years and hope to be forever!

Sue Peace said...

What a great tribute to a wonderful couple! And I love the photos you've incuded, Melissa. Thanks for sharing this with us. To me a HEA means being with your partner, who is your best friend, through thick and think, boosting each other up and leaning on each other in the rough times, laughing and having fun the rest of the time. It means having someone by your side you loves you unconditionally. :)

NaDell Ransom said...

HEA means you can see that the couple will be able to survive every storm by leaning on each other (and keeping each other company when it's too icky to go out!)

Laney4 said...

In real life, it means seeing the sparkle in each other's eyes, long after the honeymoon is over. (I'm more in love with my husband after 34 years than I ever was.)
When reading a romance novel? HEA means acceptance of the future, that they will be together for now and always....

WhiteDragon said...

To me HEA means that two people find wholeness in each other and being able to spend the rest of their lives together, through the good times and the bad. A wonderful tribute to an amazing couple, Wilma and Herald.

katie Schlauderaff said...

I think it means you still have the same respect and love for one another that you did when you first met.

petite said...

What an emotional and beautiful post which tugs at the heartstrings and is unforgettable and special. HEA is enduring when you find your soul mate.

traveler said...

Beshert and such a meaningful relationship. Respect, trust and understanding each other contributes to the longevity of the marriage.

Melissa McClone said...

Wonderful story about your parents, Mary! Thanks for sharing it!!!!

Melissa McClone said...

So glad you liked the post, Janine! And yes, you're right about them!

Kendra Huffman said...

My HEA is modeled after my grandparents who were married 58 years at the time of my granny's passing.
They lasted through War as my grandad was in the navy and the birth to a disabled daughter. While special care was limited in the time they made it through and still had 3 more children go care for. When is grandchildren arrived we was shown unconditional love.
I wish to only have a sliver of the HEA they had.

tisonly143 said...

Such a beautiful story here, definitely brought tears to my eyes, of joy and sadness.. I love being able to read stories like this , True love and even by death never is separated....

Shannon Moore Smith said...

HEA is always been about finding the right match, emotionally and physically.

Quilt Lady said...

What a great post Melissa, HEA to means that you stick together thourgh the good times and bad.

Bev said...

A beautiful story. My parents were Happily married for 30+ years and I'm sure they would have been married way into their old age. Unfortunately my Dad died at 54, eight months after he walked me down the aisle at my wedding. My husband and I will celebrate our 40th in August this year.

Ruth Mazur said...

What a beautiful love story. My parents met in 1939 when he was playing in a band, and they were married in 1943. My Dad passed away in 1995 after 52 years of wedded bliss. I'll be married 47 years this August. We're in this marriage for the long haul. ruthmazur46@gmail.com

Pauline Frost said...

When I close the book of a romance story I want to remember the struggles then over came to stay connected in their walk of life and that no matter what them will be there for each other together always even after the end comes.

Bonnie said...

In a romance HEA means for all eternity.

Unknown said...

Oh, how beautiful! I cried. This reminded me somewhat of my dear mother-in-law -- she and Harold were high school sweethearts but her mother separated them. So each married someone else and had kids. Many years later (after each spouse had died -- a year after my husband's father died) -- Harold came courting and they married. He was such a good man and really took good care of her and she took good care of him too. I've been married 42 years now and I think HEA is being there for your spouse during the good and bad times -- you're in it for the long haul.

Martha Luketich

tiggers' owner said...

To me a HEA means being together, supporting and loving one another throuugh the good, bad and truly ugly. My husband has been great, I was diagnosed with depression after our eldest's birth nearly fourteen years ago... But the truly ugly is at 3am when he sounds like an trumpeting elephant and I am desperate for sleep. Glad and proud to say I have been married to this wonderful though loud man for nearly 22 years now - over half of my life. That's my experience of a HEA, which is what I hope our children have in the future.
Kylie Clayton

Shari said...

Loved the tribute, so many memories. We have been married for 31 years next week, and yes we have had our ups and downs. But, when I said I do it was for the long haul.
I work as a RN, love hearing these stories from my patients, on their long marriages. Too many people give up to soon.

Jean W said...

If the main characters respect each other, you know that they will have a HEA. Once respect is lost, minor squabbles become major rifts.

Eileen A-W said...

Thank you for sharing this story. Wow!! That is true love! I believe a HEA is still loving & respecting your partner. Still trying to make the other laugh. Still holding hands as you walk together. Still wanting to be with the other, no matter what. It's the little things, not the big things in life that keep us together after almost 33 years of marriage (& 35 years together).

Barbara T. said...

You two are together for the long haul. This includes the good, bad and the ugly.

mindy1414 said...

HEA's are sadly few and far between this day and time. I love hearing the HEA stories and knowing they really do still exist. To me it means unending love, compassion, understanding, and sticking it out through think and thin even when you don't always agree.

Sharon Brimer said...

So sweet! My parents were married 65 years. Love the pictures too. Thanks for sharing the story.

csutherl said...

Wow what a wonderful HEA. I have wonderful in laws that are celebrating their 45 year of marriage this summer. I am so proud to see how they have worked on their relationship. My husband now of 14 years has gone through so much with me. First of all my childhood was horrible parent's divorced. Ect... But I never thought I would be with someone as wonderful as Bruce. Yes we fight never did I say we are perfect. I know he went through the death of my mom which has been just horrible for me. It's like things go rainbows and butterflies then bam hurricane. I am just thinking of all that I have accomplished I have 2 children that are happy (I think) and healthy. I have a husband and I don't need rainbows all the time for my hea because if that happens I would never turn into the person I am or would be. So I believe that there will be and that there is a happily ever after.

Michelle Kinsley said...

That was so sweet to read! Reminds me of my grandparents, they loved each other and would look at each other like that after all those years together.....that is a true HEA.

Kerry said...

Like and trust are needed with love to survive all life throws at you!

Deanne said...

What a beautiful story, so devoted to each other. My grandparents were married for 9 years and so in love as well.

Linda Stults said...

What a beautiful story. HEA to me means being with the love of your life and your best friend all in one person.

catslady said...

My mom's parents were married over 50 yrs. and so were my parents. I'm on year 46 :)

Laurie G said...

Beautiful story.
HEA in a romance novel means finding your soulmate! You compliment each other but you don't need to be together constantly and you can function independently. You want to be together!

heather727 said...

HEA means being with the one who loves u unconditionally, u can see the love in there eyes when they look at u, someone who respects u and is faithful to u. not giving up on each other when times get rough, always working it out and trying to make it better.
ill b married 17 yrs in april and i still get butterflies when he kisses me and i get so excited when its time for him to come home from work <3 i cherish every second with him.

Melissa McClone said...

Hi Jane! You are the winner. Please contact me via my website or PM me at my FB page.

Great story about your grandparents! And what a wonderful ting your grandpa did and said at the end. Hugs.

Melissa McClone said...

I love reading all of these stories. Thank you all so much for sharing them!

The winner of the Mystery Prize is Jane Nelson! Jane, please contact me via my website for Facebook page.

Jane Nelson said...

Thank you Melissa for both the gift and about my grandparents! They were very special to me and I miss them both like crazy. I pm'd you from fb! Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

So beautifully written and Ed Shearin's song is so appropriate. All HEAs are a work and progress and these two exemplified it. My late husband and I had 42+ years until his untimely demise...good times, bad times, we supported one another through it all. Tears streaming down my face...

Kathleen Bylsma h5apby@yahoo.com