by Beth Boswell Jacks
You can complain because roses have thorns,
or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.”
The wife of building contractor Hank Burdine and the mother of two sons and a daughter, Sallie was blond and beautiful, I’ve been told, with a body Cindy Crawford would have envied and a buoyant personality that made her the center of attention at any gathering.
Friends and family she had in abundance. In fact, there were not many things of value Sallie lacked. Sadly though, she possessed something else nobody wants: cancer.
During a period of remission from her cancer several years ago, Sallie decided to record her thoughts and experiences.
With dedication and perseverance, Sallie was able to publish an extraordinary book titled Who Needs Hair? – a witty manual of sorts, an inspirational book from her medical experiences for those going through chemotherapy. I loved the book with its whimsical illustrations and bought it for a friend. That was a couple of years ago.
Then a few months following, I heard the Big C had won. Sallie was gone.
Several weeks ago, my telephone rang. I picked up to hear the voice of Sallie’s widower.
“This is Hank Burdine,” he said. “I’d like to talk with you about my wife Sallie’s books.”
As we chatted, I learned that Hank, devoted to the memory of his vivacious Sallie, hopes to spread the word about her books, Who Needs Hair? and Unplugged.
Is this a recommendation? Most definitely.
Sallie was a remarkable woman, as smart as she was pretty. She fought demons, very honestly describing those demons in Unplugged, and she lived a life of privilege, enjoying a lavish lifestyle that most of us can hardly imagine. Some of the book’s passages are shocking, but Sallie’s honesty and her loving heart are apparent on every page.
“I encourage all of you who take the time to read my words to stop running around doing this and that, as I have been doing for most of my life,” she writes, “and start doing or finding what it is that you and you alone have to offer this world. Do not worry how superb or pitiful others may find your creative effort – just express it as if your life depends on it.”
Did cancer really win? No! Read Sallie’s books and you’ll understand how she died a conqueror.
She writes: “I am convinced that human beings have an innate need to give something back to the world . . . whether it’s from a sense of obligation to contribute or merely the physical manifestation of a creative power they possess.”
Sallie Burdine did that with her vibrant life, her loving relationships, and her books. I am, with many, most grateful.
Editor of USADEEPSOUTH, Beth Boswell Jacks is the author of 3 books (Grit, Guts, and Baseball and Snippets I and II) and is also a weekly columnist for a number of Southern newspapers. Readers and editors may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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