Dancing in Heaven

Dancing in Heaven — a sister's memoirDancing in Heaven is available at:

Amazon.com (Print and Kindle)
Createspace (Print)

My sister Annie never outgrew the needs of an infant. She didn’t walk or talk. Our parents fed her, changed her clothes, and lifted her from her bed to her wheelchair and back  for her entire life. Although the doctors who initially diagnosed her predicted she’d have a life expectancy of eight years, Annie lived to be fifty-one years old.

Dancing in Heaven is an inspirational story about Annie s life, death, and her significance in the lives of those of us who loved her and others who were touched by her. This memoir provides a window into my family’ s life with a severely disabled member. But more importantly, Dancing in Heaven is a testimony to the basic intrinsic value of human life.


Watching in the night – chapter 1
A responsive and captive audience
An instinct to die


“As I turned the last page, tears were streaming down my face. Happy that sweet little Annie was finally able to dance in heaven, no longer hampered by the prison that her body had been for her sparkling and merry mind. Sad that her radiant smile was now only a memory.” Marion Driessen, Figments of a Dutchess – Read complete review here.

“This memoir is beautifully conceived and beautifully written. I can’t praise it enough. I hope if you haven’t yet read it that you will go hereto find it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.” Ann Best, author of In the Mirror – a memoir of shattered secrets. -Read complete review here.

“Not only is this self published, non-fiction book polished and perfect…it’s a gripping read.Cynthia Robertson. -Read complete review here.

“To quote one of my favorite movies (You’ve Got Mail) “Read it with a box of tissues.” Read it with laughing music. Read with a smile on your face and a dance in your heart. Just be sure you read it.” Lisa Kramer.  - Read complete review here.

You will be touched by this inspirational story about Annie. . .” Kaity-Jane Culbertson. - Read complete review.

“Christine’s memoir is a lovely tribute to the life of this dear family member. . .” dogear6, blogger. – Read complete review here.

Dancing In Heaven: a sister’s memoir is touching and inspirational. Annie’s story is one that everyone should read. The way she affected her famiy and those around her was astounding.” Stephanie Cowart from Your Need to Read.  -Read complete review here.

“Dancing in Heaven — a sister’s memoir is a tender story of growing up with a severely handicapped member of the family.” It is a “beautiful memoir.  It is sweet, gentle, and encouraging.” Sally from Hot Dogs and Marmalade.  -Read complete post here.

“The writing is beautiful and while there were times I felt my eyes well up with tears, there were many parts that made me smile. I really did enjoy this intimate look into such a wonderful family.” Jennifer from Mommy’s Reading Too – Read complete review here.


*Reviews by Jane: ” RBJ – What inspired you to write a memoir about your sister?  CMG – I always knew I would write about my sister Annie. I believed her story had a lot to offer other people in many different ways. . .” Reviews by Jane.

*Ink Drop Interviews:IDI - Christine, I know that ‘Dancing in Heaven’ is about the life and death of your severely disabled sister. Why did you write it?
CMG - Having a profoundly disabled sister had a profound effect on me. . .” Ink Drop Interviews by Kathy Reinhart.

*RED!webzine:RED! contributing writer, Elizabeth Bryant, recently interviewed RED! writer and blog/technical consultant, Christine Grote, about the publication of her first book, DANCING IN HEAVEN: A Sister’s Memoir.” RED!webzine’s interview.

*William Lambers interview: “Christine talks about Dancing in Heaven and also the process of publishing this inspirational memoir.” An interview by William Lambers.


“This is very courageous, brave writing . . .” Carolyn Walker, published memoirist, and Pushcart Prize nominee.

“Dancing in Heaven captures the inescapable pain, unpredictable joy, and resilient decision-making . . . ” Jeffrey Hillard, editor & publisher, www.redwebzine.org  -Read complete comment here.

“Annie and her family made a significant impression on me . . .” Jim McCormick, Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services. -Read complete comment here.

“Dancing in Heaven captures “the combination of constant desperate waiting, dread, confusion and exhaustion you experience when someone you love is dying. . .”  Nancy Henry Chadwick, writer.  -Read complete comment here.

Guest Posts:

Something worth celebrating at TheIdiotSpeaketh

Why we write our stories at Wrote by Rote

How memoir writing helped me to grieve my loss at Memoir Writer’s Journey

Contact Me:

I would love to hear from you. If you have read Dancing in Heaven and would like to leave a comment, or if you have any questions, please feel free to post them below and I will respond as soon as possible. Thank you for your interest in Dancing in Heaven and my sister Annie’s story. ~Christine M. Grote

41 Comments on “Dancing in Heaven”

  1. Beth Ann says:

    Christine, I just finished Dancing in Heaven and had to write to you right away. I had to put it on hold for a few days because of some family obligations but I really wanted to get back to the book as soon as I could. I feel as if I know Annie –your writing made her so real to me and I was pulled in from page one of her story. What a beautiful tribute to her!!! I know she is smiling. I can only imagine all of the emotions that you went through as you wrote this wonderful memoir. I found myself in tears at several places in the book and loved so many of the candid stories and experiences that you wrote about. The unwavering love of your parents is evident from the chairs that your father created to the family vacations to the dedication of your mother as she made sure that all of Annie’s needs were met. You are a wonderful sister and it blessed me so much to read the memoir. I think that you honored her memory so well and I am happy that I got to share the experience with you. Am passing the book along to my mom this weekend and I know that she will like it as much as I did. Thank YOU for being so brave, for exposing yourself and your emotions and for blessing all of us readers with a wonderful tribute to a wonderful sister. :-)

    • CMSmith says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Beth Ann. I’m glad you liked the book and very happy you are passing it on.

      “I feel as if I know Annie,” was all I was hoping for.

  2. Beth Ann says:

    I am so glad that you wrote this book! What a great story of love and devotion and her smile will always be with you!!! Loved the pictures. You should be very proud of what you have done!

  3. Congratulations on a brave and fine accomplishment. I hope you’ll write more.

  4. […] can read a brief summary, a few excerpts, and what others are saying about the book at the Dancing in Heaven page on my blog. Dancing in Heaven is available in print and for the Kindle at Amazon.com and at Barnes […]

  5. […] just bought the ebook of Memoirist Christine Grote. Dancing in Heaven is the story of her beautiful sister whose brain was severely damaged at birth; […]

  6. […] Excerpts, reviews, and an interview regarding the memoir. Here. […]

  7. sheree brown says:


    I am so happy to see your unique story in print! Your very creative narrative ability should be shared with all.


    • CMSmith says:

      Hi Sheree,
      I’ve been trying to reach you. I asked Jeff if he could get me your address. I’d like to send you a copy of the book as you were there encouraging me at the very beginning. Your email address attached to the avatar (little blue square) doesn’t work. I hope you check back here. Could you send me your postal address? My email is christine.m.grote@gmail.com.

  8. […] Dancing in Heaven — a sister’s memoir is a tender story of growing up with a severely handicapped member of the family.  Christine’s sister, Annie, was so developmentally handicapped that doctor’s predicted she wouldn’t live past the age of eight.  Through the love, devotion and tireless care from the whole family, Annie lived to be 51. […]

  9. Hello. I love your blog and wanted you to know that I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. You can find the details at the following link:


    • CMSmith says:

      I was looking back through here and saw this comment from you, Jodie, six months later. I want to apologize for not acknowledging it sooner. I don’t know how I missed it. Thanks for the nomination. I would have likely gratefully declined because I’ve already received the Versatile award twice and am running out of people to nominate. :) I will be visiting your blog, though. Please forgive me.

  10. […] Author William Lambers interviewed Christine on November 8, 2011 about her writing journey and how she wrote Dancing in Heaven. I recommend this excellent dialogue with a woman who, in mid-life, wrote a beautiful tribute to her sister Annie, a memoir that has been highly praised by many published authors and readers. You can read what they say and also excerpts of the memoir at Christine’s blog under the page Dancing in Heaven. […]

  11. pastorrobin says:

    I randomly found your blog today and I don’t think it is coincidence. My wife and I have a daughter that sounds very similar to your sister. We have started reaching out to others with our story as well. We can’t wait to read your book. You can see our story at http://www.mademeaningful.com

  12. […] read excerpts from Dancing in Heaven and book reviews, please visit the Dancing in Heaven page on Christine’s blog. Share this:ShareEmailFacebookPrintLike this:Like2 bloggers like this […]

  13. […] The Blue Heron pays a visit. Christine knows about processing grief. In fact, in her memoir, Dancing in Heaven, Christine shares her family’s story about her younger sister […]

  14. […] you can find more information about how to purchase Dancing in Heaven. Share this:EmailFacebookTwitterLinkedInLike this:Like12 bloggers like this […]

  15. […] path. In fact, I’m currently reading her memoir about her sister titled, “Dancing in Heaven.” Her family’s story captivates me. I find it wonderful to read about people who value […]

  16. david seymon says:

    i am challenged! brain damage, auto accident 4+month coma. i awoke as a 3 year old, mentally, in a 17 year old body which lost 75 lbs. from a 195 lb. athletic frame 42+ years ago. to make it short and sweet, i am a published author, reflections of gratitude. i tried but cannot seem to get a screenplay written. do you write screenplays? i wrote about 12 pages, got frustrated, brain damaged “ain’t for sissys”. by the way, your book’s title is wonderful…
    thank you for the possibility of joining forces in the entertainment field.

    • CMSmith says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, David. I am sorry that I am not able to help you with your screenplay. I have not knowledge or experience in this field. You are amazing. I hope you continue to strive forward and reach your goals. Best of wishes. Stop by every now and then and let me know how you’re doing.

  17. […] you can find more information on how to purchase Dancing in Heaven. Share this:EmailFacebookTwitterLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  18. […] you can find more information on how to purchase Dancing in Heaven. Share this:DelenFacebookTwitterLinkedInVind ik leuk:LikeWees de eerste om post te […]

  19. Colette says:

    I’m curious why you only wrote about Carol (besides Annie) and not your other sister or brother, did they not wish to be included? I loved this book! I grew up in a large Catholic family but none of us had any disabilities (that you can see). Your mother is an amazing woman all she did for Annie and now dealing with your father’s Alzheimer’s! Anyway I always thank authors when I enjoy their books and yours was truly wonderful! God Bless!

    • CMSmith says:

      I’m glad you liked Dancing in Heaven. Thanks for reading it and letting me know. All my siblings were in my first manuscript. My oldest sister and brother asked me not to include them, so I revised the book without them in it. I was sad about this, but it was necessary. Apparently not everybody wants to be in a book. Live and learn.

  20. Barb says:

    I just ordered your book and a CD of Celine Dion. Can you tell me where I can get the video of the song in the article. Thanks

    • CMSmith says:

      Thanks for your interest in Annie’s story. I hope you will come back and let me know what you think after you’ve read Dancing in Heaven. I’m not entirely sure of which video you want. If it is the “Fly” video by Celine Deon, I got it from YouTube and here is the link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=U5W4RjTW3zQ . If not, let me know and I will try again.

      • Barb says:

        I have a sister who sounds very similiar to your sister. My mother and father were told she would not live past 7 years of age. She will be celebrating her 71st birthday on the 24th of June. We feel that every year past 7 has been a bonus in our lives. She is the oldest of 10 children and has been an inspiration to all of us and the many many nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.

    • CMSmith says:

      That’s amazing. You understand how it is. Annie was a gift, as I know you know. I think you will like the story.

  21. Vanessa says:

    I happened to come across this book on Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle and wanted to let you know that you have inspired me as an RN. I know feel like I have more understanding and empathy for patients and their families in similar situations. Sometimes it is difficult to understand what families of disabled people are going through especially during the hospice period. Thank you enlightening me and giving me insight on how I can better myself as a caregiver. Your insight on what your mother has sacrificed really stood out to me. Thank you for writing this book, I know it was difficult for you and your family. I know with all of my heart that you will see Annie dancing in heaven!

    • CMSmith says:

      I’m glad you found my book, Vanessa. It sounds like it may have given you some insights. I am happy about that. I do think it is difficult, as you say, to understand what families of disabled persons are going through. I wrote Annie’s story for that exact reason, to help others understand a little more.

      Nurses have been my best fans, so I’m not surprised to find you here.

      Thank you for your kind words.

  22. Vicky Forrest says:

    Christine – in follow-up to earlier discussions, please contact me regarding use of an excerpt from your book in an upcoming Hospice of Dayton publication. Can you please contact me at 937-256-4490, ext. 4409? Thank you.

  23. I just read your interview on TB’s blog and and can’t wait to read it…. I think that your writing this book is such an amazing tribute to you sister…

  24. […] around the same time and often shared ideas and information. Although different genres, her’s memoir and mine a book about creativity, her writing touched me deeply then and still does now. […]

  25. Joann Kinzer says:

    Thank you for writing Dancing in Heaven. I too had a sister with cerebral palsy and brain damage from a birth injury. She was not quite as disabled as Annie – her age level was approximately 4 years. Marcia was the oldest of the three of us and our mom and dad took care of her and raised me and my brother as well. Your story so greatly paralleled ours from the doctors telling my parents to put her in a home and forget about her to “she’ll never walk or talk” (both of which she did thanks to the dedication of our mother). I truly believe that having a special family member enriches our lives and is a blessing. Everyone who knew Marcia loved her and learned from her. It is interesting to me how little changed over the years – Marcia was born in 1938 and Annie much later but attitudes and information hadn’t changed much.

    Thank you for sharing your story – you will educate everyone who reads it about living with such a “special” sister and your family.

    I feel like I know you and could visit over a cup of coffee and compare lives!

    Joann Kinzer

    • CMSmith says:

      Hello Joann,
      Thank you so much for not only reading Annie’s story, but for commenting here. It means a lot to me to know how the book is affecting others. It makes me feel good to know that people are still learning about Annie through the book. It sort of keeps her alive.

      That’s terrific that Marcia was able to walk and especially talk. I think my parents would have given a lot to hear Annie’s voice and be able to communicate with her.

      That would be nice to share a warm beverage with you. Sadly, I had to give up coffee many years ago, but am happy to have a cup of tea. What part of the world do you live in Joann?


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