Awakening Miss Adelaide is set to release on July 9th. This story begins with my mother’s cedar chest, which bore an unwritten warning: Hands off! Priceless treasures resided in its depths. My parents’ wedding suits. An old tattered quilt. Mother’s felt hat with a jaunty feather at the rolled-up brim. Bible notes. A stained tablecloth. Equally stained ladies’ handkerchiefs. And old, crocheted, scorched pot holders.
My paternal great-grandmother wrote letters and created intricate, painstaking handwork while she was committed to an asylum in Terrell, Texas. They represent the dearest items in the cedar chest.
This dear lady was born in Sebastian County, Arkansas in 1870. She married and bore four children. Her eldest daughter, my grandmother, married in Hall County, Texas in 1911. Her grandson, my father, entered the world in 1914.
Incalculable are the times over the years when a family member would comment Great-granny didn’t appear insane at all. I often wondered how it was she resided at a state mental hospital from 1900 until her death in 1948. How could an insane person write coherent letters and create such handwork?
Mystery shrouds those answers as surely as Great-grandmother herself. All we know certainly is that her eldest child, my grandmother (photo, left), assumed the role of “woman of the house” at eleven years of age. She prepared meals and kept the house and tended three younger siblings.
Due to a paucity of records, photos, and other documentation, mystery veils Great-grandmother’s growing-up years. We know only that she and her husband married and lived in Indian Territory and Wise County, Texas from 1888 to 1900.
Family legend developed around her. Stories varied from “She wasn’t crazy. Her husband wanted to get rid of her” to “She was an Indian who chose her last name to avoid White bias against the indigenous people.” The truth hides somewhere amid the deadfall of her tragic life.
Over forty-eight years of commitment, Great-grandmother wrote a handful of letters to her daughter. I am the keeper of those treasures, along with two items of handwork–a baby dress she sewed by hand in 1914 for her grandson, my father; and a table doily in 1920.
Someone ought to write a book about that was often said around our family reunions. My interest in doing just that developed little by little over the years. The Women of Rock Creek series deals with my family history and some of the ways in which women were denied equal rights when they were denied the vote. Such realities presented me an ideal platform for illustrating some women’s plight in the hands of certain unscrupulous men–inequality in education, the courtroom, and even in mental health care.
Therefore, with an abundance of love and respect for Great-grandmother; her daughter, my grandmother; and her grandson, my father, I offer this imaginary story. It contrasts two different women: one with a voice heard around the world and the other with no voice at all.
I offer The Awakening of Miss Adelaide to the Lord to do with it as He pleases. May this story based on the agony experienced by my great-grandmother serve to lighten someone else’s load by highlighting the hope and healing found in Jesus Christ.
The Awakening of Miss Adelaide
Orphaned as an infant, Oklahoma heiress Adelaide Fitzgerald has enjoyed every advantage. She possesses a unique gift for music and has excelled on the opera stage in Italy. As a philanthropist, she’s adored from America to Europe.
But Miss Adelaide is about to awaken in a 1918 nightmare.
When the Great War–and the Great Influenza–knock, Adelaide finds her uninvited guests more than unwelcome. They threaten her life and alter her identity and purpose.
Snatched from her quiet life in an Italian villa, Miss Adelaide is thrust into conflicts others have created. What battle scars will she sustain? And where will love lead her?
In The Awakening of Miss Adelaide, war and peace, laughter and heartache, love and loss come together to ignite a fresh fire that reveals one woman’s hidden needs and potentials.
What will gaining a fresh understanding of herself require of the Angel of the Opera?
How to Reach Me and My Books
I’m offering a print or digital (winner’s choice) copy of The Awakening of Miss Adelaide every two weeks during the 5-Part series on Adelaide. Just comment, and your name goes into the hat. Drawing dates: June 19; July 3, 17, & 31; August 14.
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Lord, I pray the words I’ve written on the pages of this novel will bless others in ways I can’t imagine. ~ For Jesus’ sake