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Today Wednesday Writers is welcoming back Saundra Staats McLemore, author of the Christian Inspirational series Christmas Hotel. I fell in love with this fictional hotel in Saundra’s first book, which you can read about on an earlier blog, and have been following the progress of the Wright family throughout the remainder of the books.
Welcome, Saundra. Please tell us about the latest book in the series, Christmas Hotel Reunion.
Christmas Hotel Reunion is the sixth and final book in the Christmas Hotel series. Although each book can standalone, the Wright family thread weaves through the series. Each book has a theme and Christmas Hotel Reunion’s theme is the horrific disease of Alzheimer’s.
I dedicated Christmas Hotel Reunion in memory of my father William Warren Staats who developed complications from Alzheimer’s, and he died July 21, 1997. I watched this man, who stood 6’1″ and weighed around 210 pounds, become a shell of the man he once was. It’s so hard to watch a man who was a leader in his profession, and once revered by so many people, regress to infancy. While he was in the throes of Alzheimer’s, I discovered one in four will have the disease by age 65 and one in two by age 85. My sister and I suspect at least seven of our dad’s nine siblings had Alzheimer’s. Knowing the disease runs in families, these are chilling results for our Staats family members.
Thanks, Saundra for sharing this with us. Alzheimer’s has touched the lives of almost everyone in some way. My father had this dreaded disease, too. So, I understand how it affects families.
Saundra sent me several excerpts to choose from and, I’m going to be honest here, every single one made me cry. I chose the one I know from experience is what every person who has a family member with this dreaded disease wants—one more moment of clarity with your loved one. If you’ve ever experienced this blessing, after all you’ve been to a loved one is a stranger, you’ll know how much this gift is coveted.
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Christmas Hotel Reunion
By Saundra Staats McLemore
Alzheimer’s: a horrific disease. Jerilyn has Alzheimer’s. Christopher and Jerilyn are now elderly, and Christopher has ongoing fears. If his beloved wife outlives him, will she be properly cared for? How can two people who have adored each other for fifty-seven years be separated?
On vacation, Jerilyn becomes violent and doesn’t know Christopher. When they return home, Jerilyn leaves in the middle of a cold night in her nightgown. Other friends have family members with Alzheimer’s. Some have turned their loved one over to the care of a nursing home.
With the Alzheimer’s spinning out of control, withdrawing from family, having to be watched every minute, Christopher’s grieving heart is in turmoil. Jerilyn’s children and grandchildren lament over Jerilyn not knowing them. Christopher needs to make the nursing home decision soon. Christopher prays for one last cognizant moment with Jerilyn. He places his trust and hope in the Lord Jesus.
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The family members headed to their homes, and, Jerilyn asked Christopher to walk her into the square and sit on their bench facing Christmas Hotel. They put on overcoats, hats, gloves, and scarves. Once they were seated, she shivered, and he wrapped his arm around her. “Are you too cold, dear, to sit outside?”
“No, I’m fine. I’m just happy to be here with you. God is good, Christopher.”
Hot tears filled his eyes, but he couldn’t help himself. He’d prayed in earnest for this special time with his beloved Jerilyn. With his other hand, he took hers. “Yes, He is, my love.”
They stopped speaking for a few minutes, cuddled together, and reveled in the moment. Christopher took a deep breath. “The air is so clean and crisp. I do love the Christmas season.” Townspeople walked by and smiled. Some greeted with “Merry Christmas!”
“You know, Jerilyn, sitting here brings back memories of fifty-seven years ago. You were only twenty, but I knew without a doubt we were meant to marry and raise a family. I was nervous the night I proposed.”
Jerilyn turned to him. “You were?” Her soft voice warmed his heart. “I thought I was the nervous one. You’ve never told me this.”
I can’t believe I’m sitting here and carrying on a normal conversation with Jerilyn.
“I was twenty-eight-years-old. I suppose I wanted you to have confidence in my decisions. You were so mentally wounded when you arrived at Christmas Hotel. I wanted to be your knight in shining armor.”
She took her free hand and placed it on his cheek. “You have been my knight in shining armor. I’m so happy the Lord sent me here all those years ago. I never thought being penniless would be a good thing but it brought us together. Our Lord brought us together. I’m so thankful, Christopher.”
“So am I, my darling, so am I.”
She placed her head on Christopher’s shoulder, and they took a moment to gaze up at the sky. “It’s so clear tonight, Christopher. The stars are putting on a light show for us.”
Christopher pointed up. “I know that one’s the North Star, but tonight, for us, it’s the star of hope.”
“I love you, Christopher.”
“I love you, too, Jerilyn. I want you to remember our love, at least for tonight. I’ve never in all our years together tired of telling you I love you.” He kissed her.
“I want to pray together in the Christmas Hotel chapel, Christopher. Let’s go in. Maybe we’ll be alone.”
Want to read more? You’ll find this book at Amazon
About the Author:
Saundra Staats McLemore is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Ohio chapter of the ACFW. After thirty-three years, Saundra is recently retired as President/CEO of McLemore & Associates, Inc., a nationwide sales and marketing business she built in 1984. In her spare time, she loves to garden, and she can be seen throughout the summer working in her flower beds. Saundra has written two novels so far in the Staats Family Chronicles Series: Abraham and Anna and its sequel: Joy out of Ashes. Saundra had the good fortune of having Abraham and Anna endorsed by two best-selling authors: Richard Paul Evans and Janette Oke. There are six novels in the Christmas Hotel Series: Christmas Hotel, Christmas for Lucy, Christmas Redemption, Christmas Pact, Christmas Love and Mercy, and Christmas Hotel Reunion.
Born and raised in the state of Ohio, Saundra is married to Robert, and Anthony is their only child. The other two members of the family are the cat Charley, and the Cocker Spaniel Daisy. Check her website regarding new novels.