Monday, February 13, 2012

Creating My Grandfather: a Guest Post by Tom Blubaugh

My grandfather died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1941, in the same hospital where I was born in 1942. I have always regretted being deprived of knowing him. When I was a child, I spent a week each summer at my grandmother's house. Above the television, hanging on the gold wallpaper, were two oval, mahogany frames protecting two beautiful pictures. The picture on the right displayed a lovely young woman with long, wavy, jet-black hair—my grandmother. The picture on the left was my grandfather, a man with a soft, pleasant round face, a receding hairline, and a partial smile.

My grandmother never talked about my grandfather that I recall. As I grew older, I learned a few things about him, but nothing that really told me who he was. I never understood this. Perhaps it was because I never asked questions in spite of my interest. I’ve always been aware of the emptiness of not having a grandfather. My grandmother passed away when I was sixteen. Little did I know that any hope of discovering substantive information about my grandfather died with her.

As I grew older, I would ask my mother and her siblings about him, but no one seemed to know much about his past, and what they did remember conflicted with each other’s memories. Together my grandparents spoke nine languages. They wanted their children to be Americans; so when they spoke of the old countries, they spoke in a language their children didn't understand. She was from Poland, and he was from Russia.

None of their sons had children, therefore, my grandfather's name did not continue. He seemed like a ghost. All of their children, three sons and three daughters, have passed away except my Aunt Sarah. After my mother passed away, I sat down with my aunt and asked her every question I could think of, gleaning every detail I could. I then began to research the history of the time of my grandparent’s immigration to the United States. I found pieces of information that made the bits of truth I had already learned make sense. He had been a Russian Cossack soldier in the Ukraine, immigrating to America in 1910.

Writing this story has pushed my imagination to the limit. I wonder what my life might be like had my grandparents not come to America. Would my grandmother have been a victim of Hitler’s furnaces like the majority of her family? Would my grandparents still have met and married? Would I be a Polish or Ukrainian citizen—or an immigrant? Let me introduce you to my grandfather as I imagine him.

What I have just shared with you is the introduction to my historical fiction Night of the Cossack, which was released by Bound by Faith Publishers in April 2011. I started writing this story for myself because I deeply wanted a grandfather—my dad’s father died before I was born as well.

As the story began to take shape, I found I was writing it for my heirs. I wanted them to have a heritage, too.

Sometime during the process, I shared it with a published writer on a Yahoo writers group. She said I was on to something so I joined a local critique group. They agreed and encouraged me to pursue publication. Before I had finished the manuscript, a friend and his wife asked me to help them set up a website. They were starting a publishing company. In the process, they discovered the first chapter of my novel on my own site and asked to read the manuscript. When they finished, they asked me if they could publish the book.

Now I speak to young adults in schools, homeschool groups, and clubs. I encourage them to find out all they can about their ancestors before it is too late, but I have found that their parents take an interest as well.

After researching and studying the history of the Jews in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I understand the fear my grandparents lived with and suppressed. They were terrified that Hitler was going to make it to America. They wanted their children to be Americans. I know they didn’t realize they were robbing their heirs of our heritage.

My novel is a great story for any age although I wrote it for the YA genre. I have received letters from readers age twelve to eighty-six expressing appreciation of my novel. Another author, who is a retired schoolteacher, reviewed my book and then wrote a ten-day study guide so homeschoolers, families, and book clubs could get the most from my story. I am humbled and grateful for this, but the greatest blessing is the closure I have received and, although he is mostly fiction, I have a grandfather.

Tom Blubaugh is a freelance writer living in Southwest Missouri with Barbara, his wife. They have six children and fourteen grandchildren. Tom has written nonfiction most of his adult life, but has recently written a historical fiction titled Night of the Cossack, published by Bound by Faith Publishers. This is Tom’s first novel. He co-wrote a devotional journal in 2009 for Barbour Publishing titled The Great Adventure. His other writings include articles for a denominational magazine and an insurance publication. He also self-published a book, Behind the Scenes of the Bus Ministry in 1974.

Tom started writing poetry at the age of fourteen. His vision of turning them into lyrics for rock and roll songs for popular artists didn’t develop. He considers writing to be a God-given talent and feels led to develop it. His first novel was published when he was 69. Tom says it’s never too late. He is now writing a sequel.

Tom spent twelve years as an insurance agent and eleven years as a financial planner. He is the past president of Jericho Commission, Inc., and still serves on the board of directors.

Interested in reading Night of the Cossack? Tom is offering one reader a copy, anywhere on Planet Earth. If the winner has an American address, he will send a paper book. If the winner lives elsewhere, he offers a .pdf copy.

If you'd like to put your name in the hat, please add your email address with your comment before Thursday, February 23, replacing @ with (at) and .com with (dot) com.

"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughter.

Her first published work, a novella, will be available in the collection Rainbow's End from Barbour Books in May 2012. Visit her website and blog to glimpse inside her world.


  1. Fascinating concept. We sat behind a grandfather and his one-year-old grand daughter in church yesterday. The obvious relationship between them make me mourn your lack of a grandfather. What a beautiful way to fill that hole in your life. I would love to read it. leanne at leannehardy dot net.

  2. Thank you, LeAnne. I appreciate your observation. I hope you enjoy my book.


    Tom Blubaugh, Author
    Night of the Cossack

  3. Tom, thanks for sharing your insightful story behind your book - it sounds like an interesting read. I also regret not writing down all the stories my grandparents shared with me when I was young. narelle at narelleatkins dot com

  4. Tom, thank you for sharing your story.It sounds fascinating. I too have hardly any knowledge of my grandfathers. The one died many years before I was born, the other when I was only a child - but he lived in England and I was in far-off Rhodesia (Zimbabwe now). So I didn't know him. So sad.
    shirley(at)shirleycorder(dot)com. (South Africa)

  5. Hi Tom,

    I came from Poland in 1992. Immigrants didn't teach their children their native language because of the discrimination in United States. They were offerred low paying jobs. The descrimination was running high.
    Many immigrants named their children using American first names. Some even changed or modified their last names.
    I'm interested a lot in your book. I'm writing a book between the end of the 19th century and beginnin of the 20th century in the Kindgom of Poland. Ukraine was fighing for independence from Russian Empire as well as Poland.
    Please enter me.
    Anna Labno

  6. My parents both immigrated from Russia in the early 1900's. I transcribed their story a number of years ago. I would be most interested in reading a story from the point of the Cossack. They told me some stories which were very interesting. I love historical fiction, as I find it a wonderful way to review/learn history as well as read a great story. Thanks for sharing.

    Please enter me for a book.
    Betti Mace

  7. I hope to read your book soon! It feels right! I have been researching my family and discovered some interesting things which laid to rest stories of my grandfather as true.

    Please enter me for your book.
    Judith A. Coopy

  8. MY husband's parents died when he was ten so he will never know who they were. His dad was born in Damascus, Syria and his mother in Greece. His surname Galieh means 'precious' so he often wonders if his grandfather may have been a jeweller. If only his own dad had talked about his parents he would have been left with some memories and I truly feel for him. Please enter me for Tom's moving book.
    ritagalieh (at) optusnet (dot) com (dot) au

  9. I believe it is especially important for individuals to know their parents and grandparents, especially if the parents or grandparents were not from the United States. My grandparents were from Italy and I am so glad I had time with them as long as I did. So much of their culture makes me who I am today.

    Tom, bravo to you for doing the research and then writing a YA novel about it. Please enter me in the drawing.

    authorboyles at

  10. Thanks so much for the chance to win!


  11. Thanks for all the comments regarding my novel. You are very encouraging. I wish there could be more winners, but since there can only be one--I hope the rest of you will find your way to or purchase a signed paperback, with free shipping, from my site @


    Tom Blubaugh, Author
    Night of the Cossack

  12. That sounds like a beautiful book! I hope to read it whether I win or not! Congratulations and best wishes, and please enter me in the drawing!
    Thank you!

  13. What a wonderful way to learn and honor and remember. It sounds like a great read and I look forward to seeing how you handled it. There is a story of my grandparents I've considered telling. Perhaps one day... Thanks for the give-away. Very nice.