It wasn’t easy to come up with the plot for my first (published) novel, but in the end, I decided to go with something that I knew I could do.
The Notebook was inspired by my wife’s grandparents, two wonderful people who spent over 60 years together. My wife was very fond of these two people—the other set of grandparents had died when she was young—and she was one of those people who loved to visit on the weekends, growing up. When she turned sixteen, as soon as she got her license, she would drive up to visit them on the weekends and even when she went off to college (about two hours away) she still went to visit them a couple of times a month just to check on them, to make sure they had groceries, and all those things a nice granddaughter would do.
Since they were so special to her, my wife was, of course, looking forward to having these two people involved in her wedding. But, unfortunately, the day before the wedding, we got a call and were told that the grandparents wouldn’t be able to attend. Even though they were only forty minutes away by car and someone else could drive them, they were in such ill health that their doctor recommended they stay at home. My wife was very sad about that, but the day was so hectic, she did her best to put it out of her mind. I guess it finally struck home for her when she was standing in the back of the church and getting ready to walk down the aisle. In the back of the church was a small table and on the table was a box that had been brought by the florist. It contained the corsages and boutonnieres for the wedding party and our parents, but as she was standing there, she couldn’t help but notice there were two flowers left untouched—those that had been meant for the grandparents.
We went through the ceremony and reception, we talked to family and danced, did all those typical things, and went back to the hotel. When I woke the next morning, my wife rolled over and met my eyes, looking just about as beautiful as I’d ever seen a woman look.
“Do you love me?” she asked.
“Of course I do,” I whispered, wondering why she asked.
“Well good,” she said, clapping her hands and speaking in an authoritarian tone. “Then you’re going do something for me.”
“Yes ma’am,” I said.
Anyway, what she had me do was put on my tuxedo again. She slipped into her wedding dress, grabbed those two flowers (she’d brought them to the hotel), a piece of wedding cake, and a video that my brother-in-law had shot the day before, and we brought a little wedding up to the grandparents.
They had no idea we’d be coming and were excited to see us. My grandfather-in-law slipped into his jacket and put on the boutonniere and we took photographs with them; we went inside and watched the video as we ate a slice of cake, and it was then they told us the story of how they met and fell in love, parts of which eventually made their way into The Notebook.
But though their story was wonderful, what I most remember from that day is the way they were treating each other. The way his eyes shined when he looked at her, the way he held her hand, the way he got her tea and took care of her. I remember watching them together and thinking to myself that after sixty years of marriage, these two people were treating each other exactly the same as my wife and I were treating each other after twelve hours. What a wonderful gift they’d given us, I thought, to show us on our first day of marriage that true love can last forever.