A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime

by Maggie King

This is the opening line to an oft-quoted poem by Brian A. Chalker. It describes how people come into our lives for a purpose. According to PsychCentral, these purposes fall into three categories:

Reason: This is when a short-lived relationship brings you a benefit or helps you with a realization. It helps you with a specific difficulty you’re facing, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Season: This is when a relationship accompanies you through a certain period of your life. It lasts for some time and brings you joy and growth. You might learn a lot from the relationship, but it eventually ends.

Lifetime: This is when a relationship lasts a lifetime.

Today I have a story about someone I met for a brief moment. He clearly falls in the “reason” category described above. 

One day in 2007 I walked into one of those mall bookstores that probably no longer exist, like Waldenbooks or B. Dalton. There I met James Pendleton and his wife when he was signing Drinkwater’s Folly. I told him I was writing my first mystery and he said, “Don’t ever let anyone discourage you.” It wasn’t just his words that have stuck with me to this day—it was his sincerity and earnestness. And the fact that he came along just when I needed to hear his simple yet sage advice.

Over the years, whenever I felt discouraged, his words would come to me. I considered him an angel on my shoulder. Need I say that often the someone discouraging me was me?   

When I finally published Murder at the Book Group in 2014, I wanted to personally thank Mr. Pendleton for his helpful advice that kept me on my writing path. Likely he wouldn’t remember the advice, or even meeting me. No matter, I remembered. Since he didn’t have an online presence I had no way of reaching him other than the old school method: writing to his publisher, Ivy House Publishing Group. As Ivy House was out of business (although they seem to be in business now), that avenue took me nowhere.

I sent my thanks out to the universe and hoped Mr. Pendleton would hear it on some level of awareness. And he will forever have a place of honor on the acknowledgments page of Murder at the Book Group.

Even with James Pendleton whispering in my ear for so many years, I had never read Drinkwater’s Folly, the book he signed for me. One day in 2015 I found it on my bookshelf and read it in one day. Set on historic Roanoke Island in North Carolina, the tale follows a bold, intrepid, and ambitious woman as she navigates the turbulent sixties. The story may not be known to many readers (a sleeper, to borrow movie parlance), but is worth seeking out.

Reading James Pendleton’s work renewed my interest in locating him, and this time I was successful–sadly, I found his obit from 2009. And what an obit! Here are a few of the highlights: 

James Pendleton taught at VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) for 34 years, and was Dean of Students, Chairman of Freshman English, and Professor of English until his retirement in 1992. He was recognized as the founding playwright of the Creative Writing section at VCU. 

At various times in his life he was a baritone soloist, singing in such venues as Carnegie Hall and with the Chicago Symphony; he directed a jazz band, playing lead trumpet; taught Small Arms at the Ft. Benning Infantry School; did stints as a disc jockey, roving reporter, newspaper editor, choir director, and pilot of light planes. 

As for writing, he wrote ten plays for stage, as well as a number of  TV, radio, and film scripts. He was published in many prestigious newspapers and magazines, wrote book reviews and novels, and won numerous awards including the Virginia Governor’s Screenwriting Award and The Eugene O’Neill New Drama for Television Award. 

His travels to Central America prompted him to write the play “Sanctuary,” about political refugees in the US, and his final book, Last Night in Managua.

I sure would have welcomed a “season” relationship with this Renaissance man, but I’ll always value that brief “reason” moment when he gave me so much. According to PsychCentral, “Even a short interaction with a stranger can impact your life in meaningful ways.”

“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”


Read the entire poem

Can you recall someone who came into your life for a reason and left a lasting impression?

Author: Maggie King

Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, Death by Cupcake, and Murder by the Glass. Maggie is a member of James River Writers, International Thriller Writers, Short Mystery Fiction Society, and is a founding member of Sisters in Crime Central Virginia, where she manages the chapter’s Instagram account. In addition, she serves Sisters in Crime on the national level as a member of the Social Media team. Maggie graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a B.S. degree in Business Administration, and has worked as a software developer, customer service supervisor, and retail sales manager. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and Olive the cat.

16 thoughts on “A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime”

  1. We all have had these encounters, but I wonder how many people realize that they have happened. Your encounter with Mr. Pendleton has accompanied you through your life and still has an impact just by passing it along to those of us reading your blog post. We all are a patchwork quilt of everyone we ever met, good or bad, and hopefully we share those good thoughts with others so they can benefit as well. Thanks for letting us meet not only the good gentleman, but letting us get to know a little more about you.


  2. I found your story touching, familiar, and so true. After years of searching for the woman who gave me my first break in television, or the show we’d worked on, I finally found her last year. She remembered me and now we correspond occasionally. Others who’ve been supportive of my work are gone, some never getting the proper thanks they deserved. Fortunately, I still have the finest group of lifetime people in The Writers in Residence – so thanks to you all!


    1. Miko, how fortunate that you were able to reach that woman. I’m sure she appreciates it as much as you do. As you noted, you’re also fortunate to enjoy friendships with this group. Even at this early stage, I feel the warmth and inspiration.


  3. Yes! What an insightful and thought provoking post, Maggie! Brought back a lot of memories…unfortunately on the most important person who spurred me on(Virginia Moody), is now wandering around heaven giving good advice!(smile)! Thanks for starting my day with energizing thoughts…needed that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How wonderful that you had such an amazing inspiration, Maggie, as brief as it was. I have met quite a few encouraging people, but no one I could turn to now with that kind of gratitude. Thanks for an excellent post!


  5. I enjoyed your story about meeting an keeping an encouragement from James Pendleton. We never know when our words will inspire someone (or devastate them). I’m glad you tried to find him, and now are memorializing him. And he helped to make you what you are – a cool writer.
    At the end of a two-week short term mission trip to teach Bible School to kids in Turin, Italy one summer (my 4th time), we put on a program for the kids and parents. Before the kids sang, etc., the leader introduced each of our team (5 of us). When he said my name there was a ground swell of cheer, almost a roar, with parents standing and applauding for minutes on end. I was flabberghasted and tearful. I don’t know what I’d done to deserve it, but it sure made a lasting impression. Talk about encouragment!
    Then Covid came and we were never able to go back. But what a memory.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Maggie, what a lovely memory you have to treasure. And such an inspiration. I love that quote, “People come into your life for a reason, a season…” which creeps into my mind from time to time when I recall some fleeting exchange with someone no longer in my life. I’m so glad his words have spurred you on all these years. He would be very proud.
    Two writer friends from my youth, Brian Clemens (The Avengers) and Gerry Davis (Dr.Who) encouraged me to write fiction. I was a journalist then writing about movies for magazines. They both offered to help me write novels. But no, I was heading to Hollywood to be an actress! Oh, the folly of youth!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your writer friends would be happy to know that your writing journey led you to writing novels. And the folly of youth makes for great stories—I’ve certainly mined my own youth.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow!! What an incredible story! I love it. Yes – I have often heard those words – reason, season and lifetime. So true. I recently reconnected with my best friend from primary school (I don’t know what translates in the USA but we were both 5). Even though we hadn’t seen each other for decades, it felt like I had “come home.” She reminded me that even at age 7 I always wanted to tell stories. I’d forgotten all about that. Those words were a gift. Meanwhile James Pendleton is on my list – I put him on the top.


  8. It’s so fascinating what others remember about us. Yes, Hannah, your friend did give you a gift, not only with her words, but with reconnecting with you.

    James Pendleton is also on my list—I need to seek out his other works.

    BTW, we call primary school grade school. Five year olds are usually in Kindergarten, then first grade, etc.


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