Writing a book is often a difficult process. Finishing one can be an exhausting, emotional ordeal for the author that becomes a real challenge to complete.
But it wasn’t like that for Zephyrhills resident Nancy Carroll McEndree. It was much, much worse.
“I went into (post-traumatic stress disorder) every chapter I wrote,” McEndree said. “I sat in my chair or in my office and I wept uncontrollably. I ended up in the hospital.”
To write “Remembering Jim: From Violence, Abuse and Terror to Joy Everlasting” — a book chronicling her late brother’s difficult upbringing, bottoming out as an absent husband and father, and eventual transformation to an active person of faith — McEndree had to go back to the beginning of their lives.
And that meant dealing with her own childhood, which was filled with memories of her mother and brothers dealing with constant physical abuse. McEndree also suffered severe mental abuse and neglect, and said she even had to spurn her father’s sexual advances.
She would have been happy to leave those memories in the past, except they were necessary to tell her brother’s story of redemption. The only thing worse than revisiting her childhood would be to leave his story untold, McEndree said.
Jim started the book himself, but was unable to continue, so McEndree promised him that she would finish it.
Last October, seven years after his death, “Remembering Jim” was released on WestBow Press.
McEndree recalls the close bond she shared with Jim, while they were growing up in New Hampshire, in frightening and degrading circumstances.
“We were buddies all through our lives, because we lived in a very dysfunctional and violent environment,” she said.
As his life deteriorated, however, they grew apart.
After a football injury derailed a potential athletic future, he had trouble holding jobs and couldn’t stay faithful in his marriages. He abandoned his wife and children and ended up on the street, surviving on food from soup kitchens, and bathing in restaurant bathrooms, McEndree said.
When McEndree reached out to him, Jim was living in a halfway house. The brother she loved rebuffed her.
“What he said to me was, ‘Nancy, you’ve got your life and I’ve got mine. Don’t ever call me again. I’ll never see you,’“ she recalled.
Over time, he eventually found God and was able to reverse his life’s fortunes, becoming a Pentecostal preacher.
McEndree had already survived her abusive past and became a devout Seventh-day Adventist. She did medical missionary work, wrote several books, and had a radio show with her longtime husband, Duane.
But she still missed her brother.
Then one day he reached out, with a desire to reconnect. But he also had some tragic news: He was dying from leukemia and he needed her help.
“I just found him and I’m going to lose him again,” she thought when they spoke.
Jim moved in with McEndree and her husband, and the final years of his life were spent in a healthy family environment, prayer, and an ability to touch the lives of those he met in a positive way.
Jim also was able to reconnect with some of his children, and expressed a desire to put his story to paper.
While she was relieved to finish the book and is pleased with the result, her husband of 23 years was worried it was too taxing on her.
McEndree, 71, has her own health issues, and her husband didn’t want her to jeopardize her health for the project.
“I know it was very traumatic for her,” Duane McEndree said. “Nancy has heart problems, and several times during the writing process, she went into arrhythmia because of the trauma that she was going through. I was very concerned.”
Still, the stress she endured writing “Remembering Jim” hasn’t soured her on writing.
McEndree also has written a series of children’s books, and she’s currently working on another book dealing with the world’s problems and offering solutions to them.
Her work is done lounging in a recliner located in a room with plenty of sunlight, and their house is on property that also includes the home of some of her children and grandchildren.
McEndree’s writing sessions can last several hours, and usually produce several handwritten pages that Duane puts into their computer.
Now that the book has been released, McEndree is excited about the opportunity to help others with a positive message. Regardless of someone’s upbringing or how far they’ve fallen, she believes her brother’s story proves it’s never too late to put their life on a better path.
“This is a ‘victory in Jesus’ book,” she said. “I believe this book is going to touch the hearts of many people that need to hear that there’s hope and that God loves them.”
“Remembering Jim” is available at tinyurl.com/RememberingJim.
Published May 14, 2014
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