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December 23, 2009

Sandra Dallas on TALL GRASS

Posted by carol

Sandra Dallas --- author of eight novels including NEW MERCIES, TALLGRASS and Sandra Dallas --- author of eight novels including NEW MERCIES, TALLGRASS and PRAYERS FOR SALE --- shares an extraordinary story of strength and determination, as well as a few simple gestures which represent the bonds that hold her family together.

Several years ago, my brother-in-law, Ted, had a massive stroke. He was paralyzed, not expected to live, and in the unlikely event Ted beat the odds, my sister Mary was told, he would never walk again, never leave the hospital, in fact. Ted refused to accept the inevitable and promised my sister through a system of blinks they had set up to communicate that in 18 months, he would walk their daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Embarking on a strenuous course of physical therapy, Ted learned to talk again and to walk, dragging himself between two hand rails, then moving up to a walker and finally, a cane. In August, 2007, on a brilliant day in suburban Chicago, Ted did indeed escort his daughter down the aisle to her waiting bridegroom. Love for the young couple and pride at Ted’s triumph brought tears to the eyes of all of us who witnessed the ceremony.

So it was fitting, I thought after the wedding, that I dedicate my upcoming book, PRAYERS FOR SALE, to Ted “for your grace and courage.” The book was not due out until April, but I wrapped up an Advanced Reader Copy and sent it to Ted last Christmas.

My sister called to say they all cried when they read the dedication, and Ted wrote, telling me, “I cannot recall ever being so soundly touched by any gift which brought so much meaning and emotion. The ‘grace and courage,’ ironically, probably are more a result of your own sister’s determination, more often seen as Dallas stubbornness…Your special sisterhood with Mary has sustained her so often and, therefore, made us infinitely stronger. PRAYERS FOR SALE and its dedication magnify that sisterhood, and gave her the power to lift me, and us, through.”

While I gave the book to Ted for Christmas, his note was the better present, one that I cherish, because rereading it reminds me of the special bonds that bind my family, bonds that have sustained us through joy and sorrow, and they are a far greater gift than any book.

-- Sandra Dallas

Tomorrow, Susan Arnout Smith reflects on the best present she never actually gave.