I remember as a boy visiting a Tokyo bookstore how impressed I was when I saw the name of my grandmother, Francena H. Arnold, in English letters down the spine of a book whose title and contents were all in Japanese. That was Grandma’s work reaching across the miles, around the world from the Chicago home where she wrote her books in longhand.
The “Tillie’s Treasure” item above, from this month’s Guideposts, a devotional magazine, shows how Grandma’s writing reached across the years:
Tillie … gave me Francena Arnold’s classic Christian novel Not My Will, about a young woman struggling to make the right choices in life. Tillie thought it would help me in my faith journey. It not only did that, but this first “grown up” novel in my collection inspired me to become a writer myself.
Roberta Messner, who wrote the piece, has been a frequent Guideposts contributor. I see a mention in one of those pieces that she’s a nurse, so I’m going to presume that she’s also the author of Increasing Patient Satisfaction: A Guide for Nurses and RN’s Pocket Assessment Guide, both written in the 1990s, and a devotional for nurses, from Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, published in 2012.
I’m bad at guessing ages, but judging from her Guideposts photos, I’d say Messner is easily 10 years or more younger than me. So when she was 10 (that’s when she got Not My Will), that was most likely after Grandma’s death in 1972. But a book Grandma wrote in the 1940s inspired a writer who’s still writing today.
How cool is that?
Three final notes:
- Thanks to my cousin, Louise Eddington, for sending along the page for me to scan. And to her mother, Florence Arnold, the author’s daughter-in-law who’s a regular Guidepost reader and spotted the “Tillie’s Treasure” piece.
- That book I found in Japanese? That was also Not My Will. The book has sold more than 500,000 copies.
- I sent a Facebook message to Roberta Messner, asking more about her. I’m not sure she’ll see the note (it prompted me to to look in my Facebook “other” mailbox, where I discovered messages, mostly spam, that were several months old). If you happen to know her, please send her this link and my thanks for her kind words about Grandma and my invitation to tell us more.