Many years ago – at just the right time – Jesus came down to earth. He was humble enough to enter the world as a helpless newborn, yet bold enough to teach in synagogues. He was strong enough to withstand criticism, scorn, and jealousy, and powerful enough to heal the sick, restore sight, and resurrect the dead. Jesus was brave enough to suffer the torture and humiliation of the cross and, praise God, He was Lord enough to take on all of our sins! So, as we prepare to celebrate the miraculous birth of Christ, let’s rejoice in knowing that Jesus is always enough – now, tomorrow, and forever!
Last month, my husband and I drove back home to Indiana and had a very fun and fulfilling weekend! It started off with my son’s wedding and reception (Greg and Stacy are now happily married) and then continued on through Sunday with visits with family and friends. On Monday, my sister Janie and I drove to Zionsville to meet Marlene Mendonsa, who had just returned from her trip overseas. Arrangements had been made for Andrea McCann, from the Zionsville Times Sentinel, to come and listen to Marlene’s story. Click here to see the story!
Neither Janie nor I were prepared for the extent of Marlene’s devotion and enthusiasm for her trip. An avid WW II history buff, she was knowledgeable about the war and determined to honor Raymond and my mother’s memories by her visit to the cemetery. Marlene presented my sister and me with the two small flags from Epinal that framed Raymond’s cross, as well as the dirt from around the cross. She also presented us with the “rubbing” she painstakingly made of Raymond’s memorial cross. Our family plans to take the flags to Raymond’s memorial in Fayette and then scatter some of the French dirt around Raymond’s memorial, before sprinkling the remainder around Mom’s grave in Lebanon. Our visit was very enriching and humbling, and Janie and I left that day with a renewed appreciation for our country as well as the hard work and time spent in maintaining military cemeteries around the world. We are so grateful to the Mendonsas for not only taking this awesome trip, but allowing us to be a part of their journey.
As we said good-bye to the Mendonsas, I told them that I would be presenting a power point presentation at the Indianapolis Public Library Franklin Road Branch book club later that evening. I invited them to come, and they did! Marlene even shared a little bit of her trip with the members, bringing the evening to a wonderful close.
What a fantastic weekend!
In my last blog I explained that, after reading When You Come Home, Marlene Mendonsa from Indiana planned to travel to Epinal, France, to visit the American Military Cemetery where Raymond Kelley was laid to rest following WW II. In my next email from Marlene, she explained that she and her husband David arrived in France late July and were escorted around the cemetery by Mr. Anderson, the superintendent of the cemetery. He introduced the couple to a local gentleman named Mr. Adam, who adopted Raymond’s grave two years ago. Marlene had purchased a beautiful red, white and blue floral arrangement and placed it on Raymond’s grave, right between two small flags – one American and one French. She also placed a copy of my book and an enlarged picture of Mom and Raymond at the gravesite. After taking several pictures (which she brought back for my family), Marlene carefully made a “rubbing” of Raymond’s cross, with these words: “Raymond R. Kelley PFC 179 INF 45 Div Indiana Sept 10 1944.” Finally, before leaving, she reverently spread some Boone County, Indiana, dirt at the foot of Raymond’s memory cross, and scooped up a handful of dirt from Epinal to bring back home.
When the day ended, it became time to lower the French and American flags. Marlene was invited to participate in that event and she later told me, “I’ve never felt more proud to be an American. I’ve never felt more honored and privileged.”
My next blog will describe my face-to-face visit with the Mendonsas!
When I visited my hometown of Lebanon, Indiana in June, I took a trip to Raymond’s memorial site in Fayette, Indiana. As my sister Janie and I approached the memory stone, I was struck by the beautiful flowers that had obviously been placed there recently. “Raymond’s family must have just been here,” I remarked to Janie. My sister and I completed our visit to the cemetery, and I continued on with the rest of my visit in Lebanon. I had a great time catching up with Mark’s parents and my family, including a special visit with my son and grandson. I also visited two book clubs, one at a church in Clermont, Indiana, and another at the Indianapolis Public Library branch on Post Road.
It was a productive, fun visit. At the book clubs, I met some very nice people and had interesting conversations about various people and places mentioned in my book, When You Come Home. Throughout the remainder of my visit, it frequently flashed through my mind how nice it was that Raymond’s brother or sister had laid flowers by his stone shortly before the time that I visited the cemetery.
I returned home and life continued as normal. And I never really gave those flowers another thought … until a month later when I received an email from Mrs. Marlene Mendonsa of St. John, Indiana. An avid World War II history buff, Mrs. Mendonsa had just finished reading my book and was enthralled with my mother’s story. In fact, she was so intrigued that she decided to visit Raymond’s memorial site in Fayette and told me that she is the person who placed those flowers at Raymond’s grave!
Mrs. Mendosa went on to explain to me that she was planning a trip to France, and would be visiting Raymond’s actual grave site in The American Cemetery in Epinal. She had already contacted the supervisor of the cemetery and told them about my mother and Raymond’s story. How amazing to know that someone was going to complete my mother’s story by taking a trip to Raymond’s grave – a trip that Mom had never been able to make. Pictures and information from her trip will be on my blog over the next few weeks.
I hope you enjoy the following Fourth of July limericks, written by my husband, Mark. I thought I would post them here today in honor of our great Country.
Thank you, Mark!
Each night on the 4th of July
Our fireworks light up the sky.
They’re pretty and bright,
Some red, blue and white,
But what does this all signify?
It’s America’s birthday, that’s what,
If we lit candles? Way too hot!
Year two thirty-eight,
Our country’s first rate,
Oh yes, what a large melting pot!
Be happy you live in this land,
Our forefathers thought and they planned.
They made this place free,
For you and for me,
Such liberty makes this place grand.
Hello, everyone! And Happy Father’s Day!
I have been working on a lot of exciting things lately. Last week, I had a few speaking engagements in Indiana – the state where When You Come Home takes place – and I received some fun news about my audiobook. I have a free coupon code for my audio book that I get to pass on to each of you!
If you purchased, reviewed, and / or encouraged me on my writing journey, I wanted to let you know that When You Come Home is now available (for a limited time) as a free audiobook from Audible.com and Amazon.com. Just request a coupon code to get your free audiobook.
Until next time – God Bless!
Today means a lot to me, as it does (and should) for all Americans. When my mother, Daphne Cavin, was still alive, every Memorial Day was spent laying flowers at the graves of her first and second husbands’. Both men were in WWII. Her second husband, my father, made it home from the War. Mother’s first husband did not. Raymond Kelley died in France fighting for our Country.
In 1998, when NBC Nightly News first contacted my mother to be interviewed for Tom Brokaw’s segment “Home of the Brave“, she was excited (if not a little bit apprehensive) to talk about Raymond and the War. Like so many others who had died in WWII, Raymond was hardly ever mentioned, and the interview with Brokaw gave her the chance to talk about Raymond, and the War that she had avoided mentioning for so long. A few months later, mother was contacted by Brokaw again and asked for her and Raymond’s story to be included in his book The Greatest Generation. Many people who read The Greatest Generation were taken by my mother and Raymond’s story, and from that, my novel When You Come Home was born.
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Joe Smydo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mr. Smydo interviewed me about my mother and my book. I am proud to have been involved with his article, ‘Greatest Generation’ Quickly Vanishing, and hope that on this Memorial Day, you will each take a few moments to read the article and contemplate on the great men and women who gave their lives in service to our Country.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The ereader version of Nancy’s book, When You Come Home, is available for 99 cents on Memorial Day at Amazon.
Two exciting opportunities came up for me this week. First… When You Come Home came out as an audiobook! The audiobook, along with the print and Kindle editions, is now available on Amazon.
The second big event that happened this week is that I was contacted by my colleague Carol Heilman, a fellow Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas author, and asked to write a guest blog for Memorial Day weekend on her blog! The blog is “Carol Heilman and Friends” , and my post is entitled, Selfless Tribute. I hope you get the chance to scoot on over to Carol’s page and check it out!
In October of 2011, When You Come Home by author Nancy Cavin Pitts hit bookshelves. The true-life novel, written about Nancy’s mother, was in response to Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation, which featured Nancy’s mother, Daphne, and Daphne’s husband Raymond, who was killed in France during WW II. This is the story of how Nancy Cavin Pitts came to write her mother’s story, and the lessons learned along the way.
Today, we share with you the first of many blog posts written by Nancy about her journey as she wrote her mother’s story, and shared it with a nation.
Mom was born in 1919 on a farm outside of Lebanon, Indiana. Her father was a preacher and her mother, a housewife. Mom was the 10th child born to Albert and Maggie Abston. She was a little shy when she was younger, but became more confident and outgoing as she entered high school. After completing high school, Mom entered beauty college. Upon graduation, she began working as a beautician at the Ione Beauty Salon in Lebanon.
At age 22, Mom met Raymond Kelley at a Sunday School picnic. None of the boys in the town had interested her… until she met Raymond. A year later, Mom and Raymond married and settled down to start their life together in the little town of Lebanon. America had just entered the War the previous year, and in November of 1942, Raymond was drafted. Raymond was first sent to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis for determination of assignment. As Raymond was sent to various Army camps throughout the U.S., Mom would travel to be with him on the weekends. Then in January, 1944, Raymond was sent to Italy.
Two months later, he was injured and sent to a field hospital to recuperate. In May, Raymond rejoined his unit and a few months later, they began moving towards France. In September, 1944, Mom received the telegraph that Raymond had been killed in the line of duty. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t share her heartache much with her parents because they, too, were heartbroken at Raymond’s death. She couldn’t eat much, and got down to 84 pounds on her 5 foot frame. She became anemic and had to go to the doctor every week for iron shots. As the War ended, she gradually gained her health back and continued to work at the beauty shop. She worked long, hard hours at the shop, and refused to talk about the War with family or customers.
Eventually, her faith in the Lord and the support of her family restored Mom’s health and she was able to move on with her life. In 1950, she married Marvin Cavin and they had four children, including me, the baby of the family. In 1998, Mom was contacted by Tom Brokaw’s staff to interview for a segment entitled “Home of the Brave” on the NBC Nightly News. From there, the story of my mother and Raymond came pouring out, and the novel called When You Come Home was eventually born.
To read the entire story of Daphne Cavin and Raymond, purchase When You Come Home at Amazon, available both in-print and as a Kindle download.
When You Come Home is now available as an audiobook on Amazon!