Although somewhat limited by the multiple sclerosis she has been battling for many years, Jeanie Davis, of the Gilbert 2nd Ward, Gilbert Arizona Stake, finds ways to work around it and to accomplish much along the way.
She says the MS, along with what she sees as intervention from the other side, both contributed to the recent publication of her first book, As Ever Yours: The love story of Carrie Huldah Drew and William Edwin Rappleye.
Because of her condition, she explains, “I can’t stand for long periods.” An avid reader, wife and mother of four daughters, Jeanie had studied Communications at Brigham Young University, she had written song lyrics and music and had several published poems. She figured writing a novel was a pursuit she could tackle.
She finished what she says, “was more of a practice,” but, “It was fun and made me want to do another one.”
While considering what she may write about, Jeanie attended the temple one day and did work for someone named Carrie.
“That was my grandmother’s name and it was like her telling me, ‘Write my story.’”
Jeanie knew the basics of the story of William Rappleye, a Mormon missionary from Wyoming, meeting Carrie Drew, whose family owned a boarding house in Burlington, Vermont. Wanting to know more, Jeanie talked to some of her relatives and, she says, “Things started coming my direction. I just happened to ask the right people.”
She ended up with her grandfather’s mission journal, a history written by her grandmother, copies of both of their patriarchal blessings and dozens of letters and postcards between the two—each ending with “As Ever Yours.”
“It was like my grandparents were directing things into my hands. I felt like they really wanted their story told,” Jeanie says.
She says she was also directed to the right people—including “Anna Arnett, the American Night Writers Association group and the ladies in my weekly writers group”—who helped her navigate the publishing world.
While the story is fictionalized, of course, Jeanie says, “It’s historically accurate and it reflects who they were.”
The story, Jeanie says, is filled with universal messages that make it interesting and applicable to a wide range of readers. “William was such a good example of missionary work and of unselfish service. And, he had such integrity. He lived what he believed and knew what he wanted.”
“Carrie is such an example of kindness, sacrifice and faithful endurance,” Jeanie says. And, of course, people like reading about the romance and all-encompassing love that developed between William and Carrie.
“I’m amazed at the feedback I’ve gotten,” Jeanie says. “It has been an awesome experience to see how my book has touched others and what it has meant to them.”
Still, she says, the best part about writing As Ever Yours is the experience of getting to know her grandparents. “I am one of the youngest grandchildren, so I didn’t know them very well. I feel really honored to have had this experience and to feel so close to them now.”
In a very real sense, she continues to feel their influence in her life. She believes, “Someone wanted this book done, and I’m grateful I am the one who got to do it.”
A book launch party for As Ever Yours, including a sneak peek at Jeanie’s upcoming release of a children’s Christmas book, I Don’t Know Why I Didn’t, will be held October 22 at 7 p.m. at the home of Kim Holmquist, 7290 E. Seattle Slew Lane in Gilbert, 85296. For more information, see jeanierdavis.com. Books are available for purchase on her website or on amazon.com.