Exactly 10 years ago this week, I wrote a column on a remarkable woman named Hilda Lassalette. She had just published her first romance novel, and was four chapters into her second, in what she envisioned would be a trilogy.

She had high aspirations for a woman who was about to celebrate her 97th birthday.

“I might need a little help from upstairs to finish them,” Hilda laughed.

Too often in this job you don’t get the chance to finish the story. You never make it to the “what happened next?” part because you have to move on to other columns.

Ten years was long enough to wait for “what happened next?” with Hilda Lassalette.

She tried to hide her age when she started writing seriously in her 90s, figuring young people wouldn’t want to read a romance novel written by someone old enough to be their great-grandmother.

She was wrong. “Fishing for Love” sold well enough for her independent press publisher to ask for a second book. Readers cared more about a well-written story they could escape into and characters they could relate to, then they did about the age of the author, she found.

A good love story had no age limit, no shelf life.

“I chose romance novels because I like reading them,” she told me. “I bounce ideas off other writers and they critique them. Like the one I’m working on now. They think I have to give the hero and the girl more time together in the first chapter. I’m reworking it.

“A lot of people can’t believe I’m writing romance novels at my age. They think I should be sitting in a rocking chair knitting. Well, that’s not going to happen.”

And that’s where the column ended 10 years ago.

Hilda died last year at 105. She had 98 wonderful years, her daughter said, leaving it at that. The last years were tough. They often are.

Hilda never did give the hero and girl more time together in the first chapter or finish her trilogy.

She took a break from romance to finish a book she had started about a young woman named Amy and her computer she called “the demon.”

“Amy, Jen, and the Demon” received 5 stars from Amazon when it was published in 2014. A year later, at 98, Hilda began to blog.

“I think the urge to write is born in a person and will eventually show up,” she wrote in her first post.

She never knew the power she possessed becoming a published author so late in life. She knew she was an inspiration to a lot of other seniors fighting the rocking chair, but she never realized just how much.

Like most women of her generation, her dreams were put on hold for a reality check. The young girl who wrote the gossip column for her high school newspaper in 1934 became a mom raising two children while working as a stenographer for a petroleum company in Los Angeles.

Ironically, it was the thing she feared the most as a late blooming author — facing ageism — that became her strongest ally. She blew ageism away with her words.

Still, people were surprised. “They make me feel like Grandma Moses,” she said, the last time we talked.

Hilda Lassalette believed people were born with an urge to write, and eventually it would show up.

When it did, Hilda, Grandma Moses, wrote the heck out of it and inspired thousands of seniors not to give up trying. You never know. With a little help from upstairs, there was time. It could still show up.

Dennis McCarthy’s column runs on Sunday. He can be reached at dmccarthynews@gmail.com.


Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Donald Trump ‘likes the concept’ of picking female running mate for US election
‘Jewish Space Lasers’ Takes You on a Mindblowing Trip Into Conspiracy Madness
Your NFTs Are Actually — Finally — Totally Worthless
President Biden’s son to plead not guilty to gun charge
Rami Malek protagoniza biopics más taquilleras del cine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *