Danielle Hampson: Many women sadly experience the loss of a spouse way too soon. Our book today reflects true love amid such tragedy, and the relationship with a man who served in the air force and became the flight chief for Air Force One. Welcome to The Authors Show. I'm Danielle Hampson. Our book title is Presidential Spirit written by Gina S. Scheff, a wife who learned the true meaning of standing behind one's spouse, not only in health, but in sickness too. Gina, welcome to The Authors Show.
Gina Scheff: Thank you. I'm glad to be with you.
Danielle: Gina, first of all, I am very sorry for your loss and I know too well the agony that you felt. In just a couple of sentences, how would you summarize your book Presidential Spirit?
Gina: I would summarize my book Presidential Spirit as a true story with the highest of highs and the lowest lows of our marriage. It's about my husband David's military service, his battle with cancer. You can read how I almost missed out on the love of my life and soulmate by not taking David serious. David's spirit is a big part of my book and you can read how amazing he was and by the spiritual signs he left in two photographs that were taken.
Danielle: Now, is your book suited for any specific type of reader or can it be enjoyed by all?
Gina: My book would entertain a wide audience. There is something in my book for everyone or adults and teenagers. For someone with interest in the military or fighting cancer, or anyone that wants to be motivated. It will leave you feeling emotional and inspired.
Danielle: How did writing your book help you navigate the grieving process?
Gina: My book left me feeling very emotional, full of pain and many tears and heartache. Reliving the past and his death all over again was difficult for me while writing my book and my heart was full of feelings that helped me put him at rest and let him have peace. As I fulfilled a promise to write this book, it gave me closure to move on in my life and that's what David would have wanted me to do. I will always have something to treasure that is part of us
Danielle: Indeed. How long after he passed on did you start the process of writing the book?
Gina: I took notes while he was doing treatments and it took me probably about five years total to complete it because I would stop, write, and then I'd get upset, and then pick it back up and reliving his past all over again was difficult for me. My heart was full of feelings that helped me put him at rest and peace.
Danielle: I can understand that. Let's talk about your title. Selecting a title is typically quite difficult to do. How did you decide on Presidential Spirit?
Gina: First it came to me because David was the spirit of presidential Air Force One aircraft. He lived it every day and was honored to wear the presidential White House service badge on his uniforms daily. David soared like an eagle of the presidential spirit. It was a perfect title for the man that knew so much about the presidential aircraft Air Force One.
Danielle: Can you tell us a little bit about David's health crisis?
Gina: David's illness started when he could not eat. He just like went off of his feet and we had farm animals at the time, when he started turning a yellow color and itching, and he went to the VA for his yearly physical and they took nine tubes of blood and did an ultrasound of his liver, and the doctor called and said it was grave. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called cholangiocarcinoma and Klatskin's tumor at the age of 44.
David had a 13-hour surgery removing 70% of his liver, his gallbladder and all his bile duct. Then during the surgery, the surgeons created him a new bile duct and after the surgery, he did chemotherapy for four months, then two years to the day, he was re-diagnosed and he beat the odds of six years total for his type of cancer, and then he passed away.
Danielle: That must have been a very difficult period for both of you. How was his spirit when he passed on? Obviously, he must have known, he would expected that, but did he retain a positive look at life?
Gina: Yes, he did. He was special because he would always be happy and relaxed, and he always had a big smile on his face. He had the best attitude of anyone I've ever known. David was completely willing to be a scientific study. He knew the chemo trials were necessary if they were ever to find a cure for cholangiocarcinoma and Klatskin's tumor and my husband was using his body for other people to find a cure for this type of cancer, which says a lot about the kind of man that he was.
Danielle: How did you react to that decision of his?
Gina: I had to stay strong for him and it's like, his famous saying was, "Just suck it up and do it." Well, I had to suck it up too. It's almost like you have to psyche your mind out that they can beat it. You're hopeful that they can, but it was a deadly cancer.
Danielle: What big dream is in Presidential Spirit?
Gina: As a young airman, David had read in a airman magazine that inspired him to someday serve on presidential Air Force One. He thought that the Secret Service man the aircraft, but it was the United States air force maintenance. As I took notes along the way, his hard work and dedication gradually paid off and his dream that he read came true. As his wife, I stood right by his side as he achieved his dream and vision and became the presidential flight chief of Air Force One. David always said his spirit animal was an eagle.
Danielle: Now you write also about David as being your best friend. Someone who made you always smile, made you strong, and you say that some heroes wear capes, but your hero has wings. It is obvious that you had a tremendous amount of love for him. In what way did David show his love to you?
Gina: David never thought of himself as romantic, but he was. Once David gave me this crystal world globe with a wooden stand because he said, "You are my world." When I opened the box, I lost it and tears rolled down my face. David was my world too, and the two of us were a mess, crying happy tears. He knew just how to express his devotion for me, and he would get me crying with the way he would show me that he loved me.
He always showed his love to me by giving me heart shaped gifts or rocks that are heart shaped to express his love to me. David was always a shopper and a giver. David would always tell me we were connected because I had his rib and the two of us did everything together. Our communication was great, and we could talk about anything and everything. We were always looking for each other and holding hands.
Danielle: He said he was not a romantic type. If that's not romantic, I don't know what is.
Gina: He was very romantic.
Danielle: Now, since we're on the love matters, the word precious is often used when discussing a love issue. What is very precious about your book?
Gina: I would say the most precious thing in my book would be that David always said that time is precious. Everything is based on time from the day we are born to the day we pass away. You can never stop time, not even slow it down. It's always ticking away. We decide how we spend that time. It's about the moments, the minutes, the hours, the days, months, years. David believed in making time matter by counting his blessings. We both enjoyed our time together up until he passed away.
Danielle: Going back to his work, being the flight chief of Air Force One. How important was that to him?
Gina: David being the flight chief of Air Force One was his whole world and part of all his life. He would put that VC-25 747 aircraft first, which I always understood because it was such an important aspect of the mission for the Presidents of the United States in his military air force career. The aircraft is a symbol of America and always mission ready when the President needs it to fly on Air Force One.
Danielle: Did you get the opportunity to see the inside of the plane?
Gina: Yes, but I never flew on it. Got to walk through it.
Danielle: I can imagine. That's got to be a beautiful sight.
Gina: It is.
Danielle: Now, going back to your book, what chapter or chapters maybe, do you feel that the readers will particularly enjoy and why?
Gina: I think chapter one, our love story, because after reading that first chapter, it pulls you in and wants you to read the next chapter and the next chapter and so on. It lets you read how David and I became each other's Valentines and he made me feel whole again. Then readers will enjoy chapter six, titled Priority One. In this chapter, it highlights my husband's career going full time in presidential Air Force One, and then David always said he appreciated how I stood by his side while working for the flying White House.
Danielle: I'm a big believer in learning at least one thing each and every day, even if just a little thing. What have you learned through the process of writing your book that you did not know before?
Gina: Writing was a long process for me. I would write then step away for a while because it was so hard to relive certain moments in our life together. Doctors would say to David he needed to write a book and my husband would say, "My wife, Gina, is going to write my book." I did write David's book because he always had so much confidence in me, and I realized that I could write a book and become an author.
Danielle: Now, will you read a short excerpt from Presidential Spirit for us?
Gina: Yes. I want to read chapter 28, My Hero. "Sometimes you need a superhero in your life. My husband, David Scheff was my hero. He was my dream, my whole life, my partner whom I looked up to before, during, and after his cancer fight. When the battle started, David was such a fighter. He earned every one of his battle scars from his surgery, and that is when I knew I was married to a true hero. The cure for which we both prayed for did not happen during David's lifetime.
My heart goes out to anyone who is fighting cancer, or who has already won that battle and been cured. When you are a caregiver for someone with cancer, you need to believe that they can beat it, and you do everything possible to help them succeed. My hero was destined to have cancer so that he could play a significant role in finding a cure, and they did just that. As David often said, "Cancer was the card that I was dealt." If you had anything to do with David during his treatment as a caregiver or just as a friend, you know how he touched your heart in some way, and David touched my heart every day.
They say love happens only once in a lifetime, and if that is true, I was married to my hero, and I was honored to be his spouse. David was wonderful to me, and I was a spoiled bride. To have been married to the love of my life is something that I will always treasure. Although David and I will not grow old together, walking arm-in-arm down through the years like two happy lobsters. Until we meet again, I will cherish all the great memories and special times we shared during our life together. David made me happy, and it deeply saddens me that I lost my better half. The person who made me whole is gone, and now I have an empty hole in my art from losing my love, my best friend, and my soulmate."
Danielle: That's a beautiful passage and an absolutely beautiful tribute to your husband as well. Thank you for sharing that with us. Thank you.
Gina: You're welcome.
Danielle: What lasting value do you feel that Presidential Spirit will contribute to the readers?
Gina: People will read that the love that the two of us shared together was special, and not even death could take it away. Readers will feel captivated, and they will find pieces of themselves in this story. David's soaring spirit is an inspiration to so many and it will give them courage and strength. One important message is that everyone can fill their dreams, no matter what they are faced with in their own life.
Danielle: Gina, how have readers responded so far to your book?
Gina: Readers have been touched by reading my book Presidential Spirit. They say that they cannot put it down and stop reading it. My book leaves readers with goosebumps, and feeling captivated, inspired, and motivated. Men say it leaves them with tears and full of emotions. Presidential Spirit so far has a five-star book review.
Danielle: Would you recommend reading it with a hankie nearby?
Danielle: Where can readers find out more about you? By the way, in what format is your book available, and most of all, where can they purchase it?
Gina: My book can be purchased at ginasscheff.com. You will find on my website links to purchase my book.
Danielle: Gina, in what format is your book available? In print, in ebook, in audiobook, what format?
Gina: It's in hardback, paperback, ebook, and an audio CD.
Danielle: Well, Gina, thank you very much for introducing your wonderful husband to our audience today. Memories are precious. You will never forget indeed. May they keep you warm inside always. Thank you for coming and sharing this with us today, Gina.
Gina: It was my pleasure. You're welcome. Thank you.
Danielle: Now, more than ever, love is very much needed. I hope that this review excerpt will inspire you to read this very warm true story of unbroken love between husband and wife.
Quote, "Absolutely loved this book, read it cover to cover in one setting. While the book, an underlying love story perhaps like any great love story has the inevitable ups and downs, the book is on balance so uplifting. Yes, folks, true love still happens, and it can endure through health and through sickness." End quote.
Presidential Spirit is the title of the book by author Gina S. Scheff. Her website is ginasscheff.com. Go and get it today. When done reading remember to leave a review as those are very important to authors and they are very much appreciated indeed. Remember to share this interview with your friends so that they too have the opportunity to discover our guest and her work. I'm Danielle Hampson, thank you for listening. Until next time with another author and another one-