It was 26 years ago last night that Mom and I sat next to my father’s hospital bed and said goodbye to him. I told him he had been a wonderful father, that I loved him, and that is was okay to move on. I’m not sure I said follow the light exactly, but I kept talking to him, even after his heart monitor went flat. I always wondered what the nurses in ICU thought. For the next week I could feel my father’s love engulf me. And even now, decades later, he is never far from my thoughts or heart.
When I started the Haunting Danielle series, I wanted a name for my resident ghost appropriate for his generation. While my father was young enough to be Walt Marlow’s son, his name Walt was a common one for the twenties. It seemed fitting to give my ghost Dad’s first name.
But, I didn’t just give him Dad’s first name, I gave him his middle name too. Like Walt Marlow, my father’s name is Walter Clint—and like Walt Marlow, he always went by Walt, instead of Walter.
I can’t say Walt Marlow’s personality was patterned after my father—he wasn’t. However, they do share one trait. Readers seem to like Walt—many even claiming they have fallen a little in love with him.
People also liked my father—they wanted to spend time with him. Even today, over a quarter of a century after his death, I often hear people who knew him share their “Walt” stories.
I like to think Dad would get a kick out of Walt Marlow being named after him. Miss you Dad, and Merry Christmas.
(Photo: Dad, sisters, Lynn & Bobbi)