Mary Kay Zotz has told many stories to her children and grandchildren over the years.
But the O’Fallon grandmother never wrote any of those stories down on paper.
That changed, however, after her late husband, Clete Zotz, died six months ago on Valentine’s Day.
Only five years earlier, Clete was diagnosed with lung cancer.
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Now, you can enjoy some of her stories.
Zotz recently self-published her first book, Grandma’s Wishes of Love from Heaven.
In her inspirational book, written for children, Zotz tells the story of a grandma (herself) who sent her grandchildren a note from heaven.
She wants her grandchildren to know she is well and happy.
Zotz has dedicated the book to Clete, her late husband of 37 years, and to their family.
“They all inspired the story,” she said. “We’ve had so many wonderful memories and a life of love and gardens.”
Zotz shares in her book about her favorite pastime in her new home (heaven), and telling her friends about her wonderful grandchildren and all the memories they made together.
She tells them how they laughed, played and loved together.
At the same time, Zotz now encourages children, especially young ones, to remember positive experiences about their grandparents, in this case, a grandmother.
“Although sadness and grief are necessary after the death of a loved one, children should also be reminded of the good times they had with him or her,” Zotz said.
“These memories can then be passed along to their children, keeping family history alive. And of course, it’s a reminder of being truly love.”
Zotz earlier worked with her family’s centennial furniture store, the historic Schwartz Furniture, for 39 years in O’Fallon. The store, now closed, was started by her great grandfather.
Zotz also taught youth choir and volunteered at many school and church functions.
While she taught choir, there were many times when Zotz talked with the children about life and the struggles they might be facing.
Her favorite pastime is making up stories for her children and grandchildren.
While Zotz’s book stories are written as if they are being told to them, she has kept her stories short and generic so other people might relate.
For instance, she included her favorite story about when she watched movies with her grandchildren.
“My favorite part of our day was when we cuddled up with a blanket, popcorn and some juice. We’d watch one of your favorite movies and gab and laugh through the whole show. Sometimes, but not too often, you’d catch me snoozing and say, ‘Grandma, you are missing the best part.’ I was so thankful when you kept me alert!”
The book is illustrated by Ramah Munier Alberts of Trenton. Zotz and Alberts were the best of friends earlier, growing up on Third Street in O’Fallon, before each went their separate ways.
“I like to say our moms, who are now in heaven, knocked our heads together, and said we need to get back together and do this book,” Zotz said.
“But I believe God and Facebook put us together, again,” she said.
Zotz will hold her first book signing on this Saturday, starting at 10:30 a.m., at the O’Fallon Public Library, where copies of her book will be for sale.
Zotz hopes to have more book signings and write more books in the future.
In the meantime, she is excited to have her first book published.
“I always carry a copy of it in her purse,” she said.
In addition to her late husband, Zotz said she was inspired by God to write the book.
“I believe this is something God put in my heart to tell,” she said.