For Roberta, From Christopher

Eighteen-year-old Roberta started a long journey across a college lounge to say hello to a nineteen-year-old stranger. She began a friendly, charming and witty conversation. That delightful conversation lasted fifty years until a coyote came to our Arizona window and trotted off with her spirit.

Roberta’s mother descended from 17th Century settlers and pioneers who were in the Oklahoma land rush. Her father’s ancestors were Revolutionary War heroes. Her father was left alone in El Paso at the age of eleven by his own drifter father. His salvation was education and hard work, and the five Helmer children learned that lesson. Among her forebears were a family that loaned Abraham Lincoln books from their small library. Roberta loved her family, its history, and growing up on the farm in Ohio.

A man named Reverend Gale appeared to help guide her education. She never knew how he got involved. She attended a small school near Dayton founded by Fritz Marti, a Swiss educator who was passionate about teaching and wrote extensively on the subject. From there to the Ferry Hall Girls School in Lake Forest, Illinois where she was a lone scholarship girl among the heiresses of Chicago fortunes. Roberta enjoyed the wonderful teachers and curriculum there. Her schoolmates would line up in the hall outside her room for tutoring until lights out and the monitor sent them away. Roberta learned from living in close quarters with these girls to never seek material gain.

In college, she switched from French Literature to Chinese Literature. She was mentored for four years by Dr. Derk Bodde, a Dutchman who was the world’s foremost China scholar. He arranged grad school for Roberta at Harvard; she forsook that to return to school in Ohio to be near her family.

Roberta inspired her husband to appreciate the joy of education, and they graduated on the same day.

She put academics on hold to lead tours to China and work on book offers. Her first effort was a chapter on Chinese art in “The Encyclopedia of China Today.” The London Sunday Times said, “…the chapter on art is lovingly and beautifully written.” About that Roberta said, “It’s a small thing.”

After our son was born she was determined to work from home. She would write a few paragraphs every morning and show them to me at night. The first three times I could tell it was written by her. The fourth time I asked her, “Who wrote this?” She smiled and said, “I found my voice.” She submitted it to Dell Publishing and Maggie Lichota called her immediately to offer a three-book contract. Boy, was Roberta smiling! She loved everything about writing and she loved the great people she met, like Debbie Macomber. Debbie inspired her to do more knitting and Roberta found another great group of friends.

Her greatest love was our son Christian, and her last days were spent advising Christian and his new bride Mary on their life plans.

Thank you Roberta for the countless years.

Love, Christopher

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36 Responses to For Roberta, From Christopher

  1. Emily Kerl says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of Roberta’s passing. She is one of those authors who really reach out and touch their readers souls. When they are gone they leave a void. I loved all of her books! I never understood why her books were not made into epic movies. The movies would never be as good as the books but they would be great. She will be so missed. God’s Blessings to you all! May He Grant you peace and comfort, Amen!

  2. Nan C Loyd says:

    I have every single one of her books, both physical and e-books (where possible). She was on my keeper shelves and automatic buy lisr, and I joyfully re-read her books yearly. I’m so sorry for your loss – and ours as her fans.

    She will be missed because she did, indeed, find her voice and I am so glad she did and shared it with the rest of the world. Her voice will be missed as well as her presence. She was as exceptional artist. My prayers go up for you and your family that you will find peace in this sad time.

  3. Nan C Loyd says:

    She will be missed so much. Her voice was so amazing and once I discovered her years ago she became an automatic buy and her books are keepers on my shelves, and now in my Kindle. I am so sorry for your loss, and although we do know where she is and that we will see her again, that just doesn’t feel good right now because she was an exceptional artist with words and again, will be missed.

  4. Kelley Naughton Kreitzer says:

    So very sorry for your loss
    Quite a beautiful soul full of imagination and spunk

  5. Bronwyn White says:

    She will be sadly missed. Thank you for letting us read your letter Christopher. I have nearly all Christina Skye’s books and now on my kindle, they are very much re readable again and again.
    I am sorry for your loss.

  6. Pamela says:

    A lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing her with us.
    May God bless and keep you.

  7. Barbara Gardner says:

    She was not appearing to be she was a terrific writer, wife, friend, mother, knitter, inspiration, loyal and loving woman who cared deeply. As one of her fans who could hardly wait until her next book came out she will be deeply missed. When one of your favorites is in His loving arms it leaves a hole in your heart when they leave. She will be remembered every time you go into a bookstore or libary and walk among the authors who write the words that send you off to magic places with fascinating characters. We will miss her dearly.

  8. Kathryn Riley says:

    She was loved, and will be missed by all. May God be with you and those closest to her, and comfort you.

  9. Gundi Simon says:

    May her soul rest in peace! I thank her for the many hours of pleasure! She will be missed by many but most by her family and close friends . My deepest sympathy.

  10. Julie S says:

    How saddened I was to hear of Christina’s passing. Her love of the written word inspired my own love of reading. Her characters kept you engaged in their stories and cheering for them to prevail. She was my favorite author. She made knitting “cool” again. How great her loss is those who loved her family, friends, and fans. Rest in God’s loving arms Christina. May your family find peace in the prayers of your fans.

  11. R. Holzer says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Roberta has been part of my life since her very first book; I have truly loved the gift she shared with the world. Her stories fueled imagination, mystery and characters that will live forever with those of us fortunate to have met them. She is one of the rare authors that had me waiting, often impatiently, for the next book, and she never disappointed. She will be missed … and will be a rare star shining in the Heavens.

  12. B Kelley says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart and soul. God Speed Christine.

  13. Donna Allen says:

    I can’t tell you how many hours of joy Christina Skye (Roberta) has given me, and the rest of her readers over the years. She was one of the first romance writers that I read, and I spent many long hours and days searching used bookstores for her previous titles. She provided a beautiful escape when the world around us became unbearable. Her voice will be greatly missed. Thoughts and prayers for her friends and family.

  14. Belinda Jank says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I have loved her books since I picked up the first one. I believe I have them all. We met a couple of times. I really liked talking to her.
    I am also battling breast cancer.

  15. Juanita says:

    I am sorry to hear that she Christina Skye aka Roberta has passed away. She was a great lady very talented will be missed. Prayer for her family and friends. She has given me many hours of pleasure and enjoyment and will never forget or replaced.

  16. Donise Cinnamon says:

    I have so enjoyed reading Christina’s books and I have greatly missed not being able to read any new ones. I miss that she will not be able to write Izzy’s story, like she had wanted to do. I did not know that she was battling cancer and I wish that I had so that I could have added her name to several prayer lists. She will not be forgotten. I wish you and your family peace and hope in the knowledge that Roberta has gone to a much better place and that she will be waiting for you there. God be with you and your family.

  17. Julie Elkin says:

    My deepest sympathy. She will be greatly missed. I have everyone of her books, being a avid fan and will think of her fondly ever time I dust my bookcases. My prayers are with your family, a great loss to us all.

  18. Mary Ane Nabet says:

    At times like this there no adequate words. Prayers to you and your family.

  19. Ruth Mulcahy says:

    So very sorry to hear this. Only new to her writing but I feel a light in the world has definitely gone out. My sympathies to you and your family for your loss.

  20. Deidre says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I will miss the stories from her fertile mind. Like other readers, I have hardcopies as well as e-books to remember her.

  21. Deborah Roill says:

    Christina Sky was on my 1st to buy list. I have every one of her books. I had a friend who worked at a bookstore who saved each new one as they came out. When I started reading about her illness tears started flowing down my face. She got me through some dark times by engrossing myself in her words. I can not believe the pain you and your family are feeling. For if I am so upset how much are you and yours. I can only say how sorry I am. I’ll pray for healing for you your son and his wife. Roberta was a special lady and I can’t believe I’ll never read anything more from her. She will be deeply missed.

  22. Laura L Hart says:

    So sorry for you loss. May she rest in peace. She left her mark on this world for all to see. Take Care and God Bless.

  23. Sharon says:

    I’m so sorry for her loss. Anyone who has read her books was treated to enjoyment and laughter. I will miss her and I don’t really know her except for the joy she gave me. She was a valiant warrior.

  24. Veronica says:

    My deepest condolences to Roberta’s family and friends. I was truly shocked to hear of her passing. She will be greatly missed by all her readers. I cannot imagine her voice being silenced and will continue to read and reread the books that she so lovingly and creatively penned.

  25. Marsha says:

    I am at a loss for words. I did not realize she had been ill. I have been an avid reader of her writings and her “voice” had a special feel that is hard to describe. I was not an avid romance reader until I started reading her Draycott Abbey series. I cannot begin to comprehend how huge her loss is to your family. God bless you, I know she will be sending her hugs from above. What a wonderful life she has had, and she was blessed with a loving family.

  26. Margaret M says:

    So sorry to hear of Roberta’s passing. It sounds like she lived as she wrote. I fell in love with all books by ‘Christina Skye’. Her books always led the reader on an emotional yet historical journey. I must admit Draycott Abbey books were and are my favorites. Try to remember her in the small things she did in life as it’s one journey we all take together. My best wishes for her family and friends as well as her numerous readers. Thank you Christopher and Christian for being there for her as she wrote and supporting her in all her endeavors. You will be together again. Just remember to live your lives as if she was there, as she always will be. God Bless.

  27. Mary says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I have read every one of her books and enjoyed every one. She will be greatly missed! God bless you all!

  28. Kathy says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, I had no idea Ms Roberta was sick. I pray that you find comfort knowing you have a very special Guardian Angle watching over everyone. Cancer has touched and taken so many of our love ones. I pray that you all find peace in Gods love, knowing that you will see her again. I read the “Hour Of The Rose” and was hooked on everything Christina Skye wrote, I always looked forward to her next book. R.I.P Ms Roberta, you will be truly missed by your family, friends and fans. Thank you for sharing your gift with us all.

  29. Judy Patno says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, she will be greatly missed by a lot of people. She was one of the few contemporary authors that I love to read. I couldn’t wait for her next book to come out. I have kept all her books. Sad that there won’t be any more.

    May God bring comfort to you and your family.

  30. Alanna Mello says:

    We are so very sad that Roberta has left us all. However, we are grateful that she is not suffering. Meeting and spending time with her was truly a blessing, as I’ve been a fan of hers since the 90’s,and when i found out that she was Mac’s aunt, it was serendipitous. She truly was a lovely woman, so very talented, so very kind, intelligent and sweet. The world has lost a very special lady and it is the poorer for it. Our deepest condolences on your and Christian’s loss.

    Mac and Alanna

  31. Kristan says:

    So very sad to hear about Roberta’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time. It will be a pleasant reminder that her wonderful work will continue on and give so many of her readers the chance to share in her amazing gift of story telling. She was able to transport people into her work and make them forget about what’s going on around them and focus on her characters. She will be greatly missed.

  32. Mary Ellen says:

    Christopher, Thanks for sharing your lovely tribute. I’m so very sorry to hear of your loss. I did not know Roberta was battling cancer, but wish that I had so that I could have added her name to prayers. She was one of my all time favorite authors who had an amazing gift for story telling. I read all of the Christina Skye books as soon as they became available & will miss the excitement of seeing a new one of her new books in print! All her fans will miss that she will not be able to write Izzy’s story, like she always stated she wanted to do. I shared all her books with my sister prior to her death and she loved them as well. I began collecting them again once I retired. Again, my deepest sympathy to you and your family. She was a wonderful lady you were lucky to know and love!

  33. Roberta used to write to me, at a time when I was going through some challenging life events. She was so warm, wise, and generous to share her thoughts, when she was surely pressed for time in her busy life. I lost my husband to sudden death before Christmas last year, then my little brother to bone cancer within 6 months, and the shattering grief is unrelenting; I will tell you, Christopher, that you can survive it. I don’t think it is ever something to “get over”, but rather something you “get through”–by one step at a time, one day at a time…our Beloveds loved living life, were amazing people, so we honor their memory by continuing (even if it doesn’t feel like life is ever going to be as fulfilling as when they were with us in the flesh). I, too, have an only child, and I am glad you have your son and his new bride to look forward to how your adventure in this life continues…I know Roberta has crossed over into a place of utter holy peace, full of Joy, wrapped up in Love & Light…for there, too, is my husband & family who’ve entered that “undiscovered country”….I love the line in the Christian Holy Bible, where God says “I will never leave you nor forsake you”…so we are never alone, for God’s Spirit is with us…we are all part & parcel of the Great All, Great Spirit…death is truly only a doorway into another way of Being… This poem by John Donne struck a chord with me, “rest of their bones & Soul’s delivery”….perhaps you may find a line that speaks to you as well…I’m crying, have to sign off…God be with you & your family.

    “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
    For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
    Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
    From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
    Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
    And soonest our best men with thee do go,
    Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
    Thou’art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
    And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
    And poppy’or charms can make us sleep as well
    And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
    One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
    And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.”

  34. Nancy Coultas says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

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