When Goes The Heart

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So much happened in the last couple of years that you probably don’t remember this snapshot from our lives so I’ll remind you.

Two years ago, Tink flew to Vancouver to oversee the writing and the production of a hit Hallmark show, “When Calls The Heart.”

In the time that Tink has embedded himself in the life and friendships of the South, he has come to love it mightier than any man I have ever known who was not born of this dirt. I, the land, the Rondarosa, and the animals are his heart.

A car arrived to pick him up for the 90-minute drive to the airport and, as he left, the graveled dust spewing behind the black SUV, I thought “There goes our heart.”

It was to be for three months — but, two weeks later, while we chatted by video, an alert popped up on his phone: the borders of Canada had been closed. “Tighter,” Mama would have said, “than Dick’s hatband.” Whatever that means.

For nine months, home was a deep longing for Tink. His sadness grew daily.

Church folks prayed for his release as a prisoner of a viral war. One church even had a special prayer for him where people fell into the altar and prayed for his return.

In the grocery store, a woman approached one day, “Please, tell Tink that we are prayin’ for him.”

“Y’all need to be prayin’ for me,” I retorted comically. “Tink is sitting in a high-rise, luxury, air-conditioned condo, overlookin’ Vancouver and I’m at home, bush hogging the pasture in 100-degree weather!”

The Lord is good. He didn’t send Tink home promptly but He rewarded him with sky-high ratings and a renewal for another season. (The new season premiers March 6 on the Hallmark Channel.)

Because he was mostly quarantined in the condo and not on the set, he made a decision: this summer, he’d stay home and run the show. He’d conduct writing, oversee production – with a litany of problems – and edit by video.

Halfway through the summer, I was thinking that a plane ticket to Vancouver, for one of us, was a pretty good idea.

My nerves frayed. I built the house we live in several years before we married. It’s two stories but it’s a very open plan so his meetings interrupted my writing. His problems disturbed my thinking. One actor got a sore throat which required rewriting three days’ of shooting. (Note here: no farmer ever stayed in bed over a sore throat.)

Once, the show’s horse wrangler had an accident while driving a set of horses, pulling a wagon. Fortunately, the injuries weren’t life threatening.

The three-hour time difference meant constant calls until 10 p.m. It was trying. Almost as trying as cutting the pasture by myself.

But there was good. Tink’s on-screen titles are “Executive Producer” and “Written By…” In contract and with some 200 employees, it is “Showrunner”. That means he oversees the decisions from writing to casting to props to locations.

He is Big Man on set. Though, they wisely gave the checkbook to someone else. Tink doesn’t care a lot about adding and subtracting.

When Tink has been away, running a show for a few months, he comes back different than the sweet, understanding, immensely thoughtful man he was when he left. For the first couple of weeks, he acts like he is boss of the Rondarosa and not me.

This does not go over well with you-know-who.

Then, we have to have THE conversation. “You are the Showrunner on When Calls The Heart but here, on the Rondarosa, I AM THE SHOWRUNNER.”

This year, because he worked from home, we didn’t need to have that conversation. He was the Showrunner in his office only. I was the Showrunner of the rest of the Rondarosa.

For now and always.

[“When Calls The Heart” is one of the Top 5 dramas in television. Please tune in on Sunday nights to watch on the Hallmark Channel. Sign up for Ronda’s free weekly newsletter at www.rondarich.com.]