Gayle M Irwin

Gayle & Jeremiah,
her rescued shih tzu.

Friends, Family, and Forgiveness – The Makings of a Great Story

Jun 23, 2023 by Gayle M Irwin
Majestic Montana in spring

I recently returned from Montana, where my parents live. My mother was life-flighted to a hospital in a larger community than where they reside or do their grocery shopping and see their medical providers. An internal infection nearly cost my mom her life. As I kissed her prior to the emergency medical technicians loading her onto the helicopter, I recognized I might not see my mother alive again. Fortunately, the crew kept her going, and three days later, after a significant surgery, she bounced back to her usual humorous self. Mom faces another surgery next month to remove her gallbladder, which led to the first operation and caused the build-up of bacteria, referred to by her surgeon as “sludge.” I will be with her during that upcoming procedure as well.


While mom was in the hospital, I took care of my father, who turns 87 in July. He’s experiencing his own health issues, and at times he becomes grumpy and antagonistic. He and I tend to experience conflicts, especially when we’re around each other for a long period of time. One of those incidents happened just before I returned home, and the experience broke my heart. I have learned to forgive him, even when he doesn’t apologize. What good does it do to hold a grudge against an old man whose attitudes won’t change? One day I’ll have neither parent, and I’d rather have them pass away with love instead of anger – for all our sakes.


During these experiences, I also learned a friend who experienced cancer several years ago is again going through that struggle. A high school classmate passed away in the same week, and my 94-year-old mother-in-law underwent a complete hip replacement. So many struggles and sorrows lately. Sadly, that is part of life, but when so much comes at once, a person can feel overwhelmed and depressed.


In my story, “Rescue My Heart,” which published last month in the anthology You Have Made My Heart, the primary female character, Ellie, experiences conflicts with her father, similar to my real experiences. She draws boundaries, and later, forgives her father. She also needs to forgive her mother for slipping a confidence, and she also forgives her love interest when he seeks it. No one needs to be a doormat, yet we are all wise to forgive, for holding bitterness and resentment can destroy us. Even without an apology, forgiveness is always the right answer, for the sake of our sanity and emotional freedom. That story will become a stand-alone book in mid-August. Other stories in that collection also highlight family relationships and the necessity of forgiveness. The anthology remains for sale for another month and is only available on Amazon:


Family and friends help us in so many ways, especially those with whom we share positive relationships. They provide encouragement, offer a place of safety, hold us accountable, and allow us to be vulnerable in our pain. My upcoming summer release, Paws-itively Love, sees 28-year-old Brittany Christiansen, seeking solace and healing at her aunt Rhiann’s Montana Ranch. The sixth book in my Pet Rescue Romance Yellowstone Country series, this story is one of restoration and forgiveness and the joy of finding true love. Here’s an excerpt:

Brittany Christiansen stood at the main corral, cup of coffee in her hand. The June sunrise cast a pale rainbow upon the snow-capped mountains east of the ranch. Shades of peach, apricot, and blueberry danced along the rocky ridges, casting a rosy hue upon the crevices still tinged with white. Two weeks at her aunt and uncle’s Montana ranch brought her to this same spot each morning, absorbing the serenity of the early summer sunrise. The lack of city sounds and sights, like traffic, sirens, and blaring lights brought peace to her heart despite the ache of love lost.

She flinched at the light touch of a hand upon her shoulder.

“I’m sorry for startling you,” came the low voice of her aunt.

Brittany turned slightly and looked into the face of the auburn-haired fifty-year-old woman and smiled briefly.

“Just enjoying another beautiful morning.”

“I know the past several months have been difficult, and I know you’ve heard the words before, but this, too, shall pass.”

Brittany nodded.

“It gets easier, maybe not daily, but week by week. I appreciate being here, Aunt Rhiann.”

“You’re always welcome, you know that. We especially need the help this year. Adding tours and educational programs at the sanctuary is going to keep us extra busy.”

Brittany smiled.

“I’m glad to be here.”

“We don’t have the ocean …”

The younger woman’s smile widened.

“I had the ocean last winter and a full year before. This is a time for mountains. I have a few to climb, literally and figuratively.”


We all climb mountains in life, many high like Everest or Denali. It seems we’ll never reach the top, but when we do, the beauty astonishes us. We’re persevering, we’re growing, and we’re stronger. Just as one looks in awe and wonder at the magnificent view from a mountaintop, we can look at ourselves with delight at obstacles overcome, oftentimes with the help of cheerleaders among our family and friends.

New release - coming August 2023!


Relationships are a saga, and sometimes drama envelopes us in those dynamics. Yet, support and encouragement from loved ones helps us, which often comes through the gift of forgiveness, gives us the courage to continue climbing.


In my short story, Gram’s Legacy, Rhiann and her sister say goodbye to their beloved Grams, a major influencer in their lives. Rhiann and Erin support one another during this sorrowful time, and Erin and the late Grams gift Rhiann with an opportunity to accomplish her dream of starting a pet rescue sanctuary. This story is free for readers and can be downloaded at


I love sharing stories about love, relationships, and pet rescue! Real-life and fiction can go hand-in-hand, for elements of actual relationships are often woven into works of fiction. I hope you’ll take time to enjoy Gram’s Legacy and the other books in my Pet Rescue Romance series, including the upcoming Paws-itively Love, scheduled for release August 1, 2023!


Visit my author page on Amazon to learn more about each of the books available: