In the fall of 2019, my brother and I were in the process of clearing out some storage areas for my mother. In that process we came across a beautiful wicker basket. What a surprise when we opened up the basket to find that my mother had saved all sorts of letters, cards, and other life event articles and newspaper clippings. I started reading through some of the letters, a lot of them were love letters from my father to my mother in their early courting days. But the most fascinating letters and poems were the ones from my great-aunt Sadie to my mother. I started randomly reading them, each one taking my breath away, as tears are rolling down my cheeks. I realized how precious these were and knew that this was something I needed to share with the world. My mother was more than happy to let me have them and thought my idea of writing a book with these letters was a wonderful idea.
I was so anxious to get started on this right away. Chronologically organizing the letters, I realized that there were over 100 letters and poems, one written to my mother every day from November 1941 through the end of March 1942. I was now able to take the time to read through each one. Carefully opening up these tiny colorful pink, grey, yellow and green envelopes, each of them only 4 ½ by 3 ½ inches in size. I’m still amazed at how incredibly preserved these letters were after 78 years. Each letter brought me closer to an aunt I never knew and to a world and time that existed only in history books. My mother was paralyzed from the waist down [from polio], and Aunt Sadie’s letters walk you through the progression and process of her recovery, cheering for her when she can now roll over on her own for the first time, knowing her fear of going in the water to do her pool exercises, all part of her recovery process and learning how to walk again. Every letter brings you to a time and place in history as if you were in that room where my aunt wrote those letters and that hospital room where my mother was recovering. Some of these letters and poems would immediately bring tears to my eyes, so beautifully written with love exuding from each one. My great-aunt’s letters opened up a window to the soul of who my mother was, which made each one so much more meaningful.
Time passed over the next several months only to find out that my mother had been diagnosed with lung and pancreatic cancer which had metastasized. In March of 2020, my mother was getting weaker. The COVID pandemic was on the rise and writing the book was on hold with other priorities taking place. I brought my mother home so that I could care for her. The thought of moving my mother to a nursing home was out of the question; she had endured enough isolation as a child that this was not something I would allow my mother to endure again. The months passed and Mom was getting weaker; the disease had certainly taken her over. On July 14th, 2020 my mother passed on and to join those who had left before her. One wish I could not fulfill for her was to see the finished product of my book. However, I know how proud she would have been to know that I did finish it and that I had it published.
Shari Anderson always dreamed of writing a book but never thought it would be this one. Aunt Sadie’s Letters of Hope and Healing was a project that touched her heart, and she was so pleased that she stumbled upon this wonderful collection of letters and poems that she could share with the world.