Grandma’s Secret

Note: This post contains spoilers of a major plot point in my book, Verbania Treasure. If you haven’t read it but intend to someday, come back and read this later.

I don’t plot every scene before I write a book. I didn’t know Grandma Sybil well enough at the beginning of the writing process to know what her secret might be. At the beginning, I thought the treasure itself might be the most important thing, but as I got to know both Grandma Sybil and her father, I realized money wouldn’t motivate either of them. Rightly or wrongly, Grandpa Sam had made the decision to move on and not talk about the loss of Baby Joe. But that didn’t mean
he abandoned his memory. He always knew that Grandma Sybil would find her brother again.

But I didn’t discover this information until months after leaving Verbania. I went back through my photos and chose St. Lorenzo’s church in Pallanza to be the place for Baby Joe. The church was full of light. It was dignified, and somewhat plain, yet I’d liked it because unlike so many of the churches we looked into, this one seemed to have a very active parish life. It was a living center of faith. People were coming in and out in the middle of the day just to sit and pray. And over on the right side of the sanctuary were a set of murals flanked with happy-looking baby cherubs. They weren’t just what I had in mind, but they were close. I could see Grandma Sybil coming to the church with her parents, skipping up the steps in the piazza outside and pulling open the heavy door. Her mother might have cried a little, but Grandpa Sam would have kept it from being too sad for a little girl.
There was a candy shop just down the street, and I think he let her choose something each time they went. (She didn’t learn to scorn candy until she became a schoolteacher and saw how an innocent-looking Hershey bar could destroy an entire afternoon of learning.)

To my knowledge, there is no matching angel in the Kansas City art museum, or anywhere else. But keep your eyes open in antique stores! You never know when one might turn up.

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