One north San Antonio author said her recently released book is an exploration of her grandmother’s struggle to overcome a debilitating sickness during an equally challenging time in U.S. history—the Great Depression.
“Letters from Sadie: Letters Written by Sadie Claire (Marcum) Montgomery from the Norton, Kansas, Tuberculosis Sanatorium (1932-1933),” written by Darla Hedrick Quinn, was published in late 2021.
According to a news release, “Letters from Sadie” is told through a collection of personal letters penned by Sadie Montgomery, reflecting the feelings of faith, separation, fear, hope and love that she experienced while living in a tuberculosis sanitarium.
The release said Quinn's memoir chronicles part of Sadie Montgomery’s life events and her devotion to her family, including her daughter Mary—Quinn’s mother.
“Letters from Sadie” is also a look at how one family survived harsh conditions in rural Kansas during the Great Depression, the release said.
Additionally, Quinn said she wrote the book in a way resembling a guide for those who dedicate much time toward helping an ill or elderly family member needing assistance.
Quinn said she was the primary caregiver for her mother for nearly 12 years while her mother lived in assisted living facilities in San Antonio and in Parsons, Kansas.
Quinn said one month after entering quarantine due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, her mother died.
Shortly after her mother’s death, Quinn discovered a collection of photographs and letters written by her grandmother to her mother’s family while at the Norton State Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Norton, Kansas.
“After my mother’s death in April 2020, I was going through her bins of papers, photos, etc., when I ran across the letters,” Quinn said.
“I was amazed that my mother had not told me about them, and neither my brother nor I knew of their existence. I was fascinated, immediately reading through them, and crying in many instances.”
Quinn said because her grandmother died when her daughter—Quinn’s mother—was age 5, Montgomery’s letters and photos take on an extra layer of personal importance to her and her family.
Quinn also said her book reveals how Montgomery’s contemporaries addressed tuberculosis, an infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs.
According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis is the 13th leading cause of death and the second leading infectious fatal disease after COVID-19, as 1.5 million people worldwide died from tuberculosis in 2020.
“I knew I wanted to share the letters with my family, brother, nieces, nephews and, also, cousins. None of us had a chance to know our grandmother,” Quinn said.
“I was encouraged to share Sadie’s story to a larger audience, given the number of caregivers in the world; the similarities of tuberculosis to COVID[-19], both being highly infectious lung diseases; and the isolation from family both caused.”
Quinn said she hopes “Letters from Sadie” also inspires people who, like her, have cared for ailing family members.
“I also wanted to make the book more useful to the readers, so I wrote and included in the book, ‘The Final Journey,’ a section on advocating for a loved one in an assisted-living facility,” she added.
“Letters from Sadie” is available in softback and e-book formats at Barnes & Noble, www.barnesandnoble.com; Amazon, www.amazon.com; Westbow Press, www.westbowpress.com; and at Quinn’s website, www.DarlaHedrickQuinn.com.