Why I write
I am the youngest of nine children and I’m a “PK”. We all know them. Those preacher’s kids that sing in church, teach Sunday school and clean the building when necessary. We did what we were expected to do, but we did it willingly. It was part of our life. My parents gave all they had to their family and their church. One of the things my dad said often was, “I put God first, your mother second and everything else fell into place.”
I don’t think I truly understood the meaning behind those words until mom was sick. She had a neuromuscular disorder and lost her ability to walk. She had diabetes. Worst of all, my mother had dementia. It was a long decline that lasted many years. She was a complicated woman when she was well. When she lost the ability to walk, she was so frustrated, there were days I felt it was impossible. I didn’t know how dad could continue taking care of her. He did. My sisters and I helped. We took turns taking care of her so that dad could continue pastoring. One of us always sat with mom and he never missed a service.
Mom was no longer able to get out of the house easily and the church decided to have their Thursday evening prayer meeting at my parent’s home. They opened with prayer. My aunt brought her guitar and before they started singing, mom asked us to open her hymnal to the correct page. She took the open book and laid both her hands on the pages. The singing started and my sister’s eyes, and mine, filled with tears. Mom was singing. She lost most of her eyesight at that point. She was almost deaf. I had not heard her sing in years. She knew every word by heart. There was no bible study that night in their living room. We sang until mom fell asleep in her recliner. I’m convinced God gave us a last glimpse of the mother we remembered most. The one who loved her hymns.
Dad promised mom that he would not put her in a nursing home. He kept that promise. I believe he kept every promise he made her. The example he set in his children’s minds is hard for anyone to match.
When we lost mom, my dad was the strong one. He missed the woman he had been married to for 54 years. He said simply, “she’s gone home.” Dad knew the reward waiting for them both. Their treasures were laid in heaven.
It was rare that he had free time when we were growing up. He worked a full-time job, along with reading his bible daily. On occasion, you could find him with a western in his hands. Louis L’amour was one of his favorite authors. He gave me my love of westerns. When mom was gone, you rarely caught him with a book, other than the bible. Every day he was reading and searching it. I remember many times that people would call him to ask where a scripture or a story was found. Dad found a way, just like he did from the pulpit, to make their question relate to life before he let them go.
My dad was a pastor, but I always saw him as a story teller. He would start every message by reading scripture, then he would relate those words to his life and the congregation. I learned many of dad’s childhood stories from his sermons.
Then my dad got the big ugly “C” diagnosis. He struggled with a choice of treatment. His age, he had some other health issues. He wanted to know what his quality of life would be if he chose treatment. All of his children stood behind him. He chose to have the surgery and chemo. We rejoiced the day of his last chemo treatment. It was a Tuesday. On Thursday, I took some food to his house, hugged and kissed my dad and headed home. Forty minutes later, my sister called and told me to come to the emergency room immediately. Dad had an aneurysm. All of my brothers and sisters made it to see him. Dad went to his heavenly home.
Time passed and it never failed that when my family got together, we told stories of mom and dad. Between the stories dad told from the pulpit and sometimes from his recliner, we all kept saying we could fill a book. I’m now doing that.
In every book I write, there is a story from my family. In Christmas in Trace Hollow, the story of Santa in the church was real. It happened when my dad was a child and he had Santa at the Christmas program every year. My next book, Elli, introduces you to a very real pet we had. Herbie was a goose that drove my mother crazy. You will also meet a dog named Pickles, that my mother said was a boy and she was convinced was dying. “He” was actually a she that was giving birth in our barn.
Most of the names for the Trace Hollow, Montana series come from my great nieces and nephews. Trace Hollow is a real “holler” in the hills of Kentucky.
My goal was to get some of my parent’s family history written down and share it with not only the next generations, but share them with readers. I chose to put them in the form of westerns because I dearly love mail order bride stories. I hope that some of the mail order brides found true happiness.
My promise to my readers is that every time you laugh while reading something that I have written, it came from the heart of my family. I want you to share the joy that comes from having a huge family.
I want you to have a happily ever after. It is my dream come true to give it to you.
CJ Samuels was born and raised in rural Ohio. After more than twenty years working in service at an auto dealership, she picked up the proverbial pen and began writing, thanks to a lot of encouragement from her family and friends. CJ always has a pot of coffee on, and a welcoming chair, for anyone who needs to talk. CJ was the daughter of the local preacher and had three kids of her own. From attorney, to finished construction builder, to a Marine - CJ's kids are her pride and joy. CJ has many "adopted" extra family members, including ten grandchildren that she claims as her own, along with her newest grandchild coming in May, 2016. CJ is a born and bred Buckeye fan. She has three rescue dogs, an English bulldog named Sammie, a chi-weenie named Lucy, and a beagle mix named Lucky. In each of her books, you will find stories from her family history. In her eyes, family is most important. amazon.com/author/cjsamuels newsletter sign up
CJ is giving a digital copy of Christmas In Trace Hollow to one lucky commenter. Be sure to leave your email address!