I am often asked about my motivation to write The Nash Sisters series. Most of the time my answer includes things like:
“I like to tell stories.”
“My family has provided lots of material.”
“I love to explore history.”
“My journals are full of observations of friendship, family, joy, and sadness.”
I recently ran across something Robert Frost said in 1916 about how a poem begins for him.
There it was!
Ethel Nash rose from my wonder of what it might be like to survive as a young single mother in the age of war, poverty, intolerance, and grief. Then came her sisters who would be the best and sometimes only way to hang on.
The sisters were raised by a single mother in rural North Carolina. The 20s, 30s, and 40s were tough times. Poverty, mental illness, war, and intolerance test their character. They were sisters through it all who made it though with loyalty, humor, and love for each other.
Second book in the Nash Sisters series!
Ethel, the elder Nash sister, is tested in her ability to hold things together for her sisters and their families. Annie’s growing family is outsizing her. And it is not easy. Caroline’s fear and mental illness makes it hard to keep from hurting herself or others. As the Nash family extends beyond the three sisters, so does the reach of world full of opportunity for misunderstanding and injustice. Each Nash family member has always had a plan for their life. They achieve that plan day by day with each other’s support, humor, song, and plenty of hugs. Most important is to search for happiness wherever it rests. Because it is there if you take time to notice.
My daughters grew up without men. It was not planned that way, it just happened.
Their daddy died in the great war when my youngest was still a baby. I never searched out another man to help me raise the children, manage a tobacco and pig farm, run a household and feed the family. Figuring out if there is another man that could come close to matching the partnership I had with my James would take too much time. Sure there were other men out there, but not many. In the 1918, most men died of illness, going to fight in the war, or just plain stupidity. By the time I got over losing James, I had figured out how to make it all work by myself. Of course I couldn’t do it alone. There was plenty of smart people that I paid to help me get everything done.
What brings me the most pride are my girls.
Dianne, the oldest and most practical, grew up to be the bookkeeper for the house and farm. The two most important things about farming is to have enough to pay cash for what we needed at the farm, for the people, and the church. She was the sweetest one. There was not a soul in our county that didn’t know and like her.
Ethel was three years younger than Dianne. She was the always working out how things should work – the fairness and justice in our county. When she saw something going wrong, she let everyone know. Ethel is probably why I never married again. She never saw a man that was good enough to live in our household. It was not easy to make it through our gate if Ethel didn’t think you a good person.
Annie was the third child and the most ambitious. Annie kept pushing us to plant different crops, not just one or two. When she was about 15 she wanted us to “diversify” just in case something people didn’t want to buy tobacco anymore. She also was eager to leave North Carolina to make a good wage. At 17 she move to Washington, DC and sent home money every month.
Caroline was the fourth of four girls – my baby. She never saw her daddy, but she looked just like him. She had a tough time as a baby. She cried a lot. I figured she was making sure the attention didn’t go to something else. Caroline was a nervous child. It was hard for her to get along with people. None of the jobs she took to earn money panned out for more than a few months. I think she was so angry because the war took her daddy. Most boys she knew “couldn’t be trusted”, she said. Caroline tried hard to fight off the devil, but one time she could not. I am most proud of Caroline for knowing that she needed others to help her. She grew into a wonderful young woman that could teach children to be better than most.
Get to know the Nash Sisters in both novels. Available on Amazon.
All of us are troubled sometimes. If you are having a bad day or bad moment, find respite in place or those that truly love you.
From Happiness Doesn’t Come Easy -A Nash Sisters Novel we can take a lesson from what the Nash sisters do for each other.
Annie’s thoughts at the end of a visit with the her baby sister’s psychiatrist.
In the end, I was feeling a fraction of happiness to such a sad day. I grabbed Ethel’s hand under the table. It was warm and so familiar. It felt the same as Momma’s soft, wrinkly hand. Momma is watching over us. I am sure of it.
We stood to leave the room. “You know what, Dr. Redmond?” I asked. Ethel was reading my mind. She joined me in finishing that phrase that has always been true, “The Nash sisters are going to be just fine.”
This is a happy/sad photo. On this day I was happier than I thought I deserved. Bob and I were married. The dress I wore was on loan from my new sister-in-law. Generosity from the beginning.
The people in this photo with us were those that made a life so their children and grandchildren would become responsible, caring, and loving humans. The people in this photo with us are all gone. They did their work. They lived a good life. I miss them all.
We are now living our life. Bumps in the road have taught us to hold on tighter to each other. Challenges have shown how to get up and go again. Sadness that seemed endless taught us to find gratitude. But most of the last 46 years have been happiness, laughter, and love.
An excerpt from The Nash Sisters – A Story of Family Sticking Together When It Counts.
The sisters stayed in touch by writing Round-Robin Letters. It all started when Dianne and Annie moved away. Ethel desperately missed her sisters and decided news about each other could be a gift. Like a present that arrives in the mailbox. The Nash Round-Robin Letters began with Ethel. These are her rules.
“Add a letter to the Round-Robin letters each time it comes ’round. I hope we can have the robin go ’round at least once a month. Don’t hold the letters more than a few days before mailing them. Even if you are busy or can’t think of anything to say, just make comments on what other letters have said. You can write letters front and back of a page and no more than two sheets of paper to save on postal costs. Here is the way The Nash Round-Robin Letters will go.
I’ll start it since I am the oldest, and it was my idea. I write my letter and mail it to Dianne. Dianne, you write to us about your life in Burlington and mail my letter and yours to Caroline. Since we are never sure where Caroline will be living next, she has asked the postmaster to hold her mail. She promised to save some money for stamps and go pick up her mail once a week.
Caroline, please write your letter as soon as you can, add it to letters from Dianne and me then send all of them to Annie.
Annie, you contribute your letter and send all four back to me. I know you have a Roaring Twenties life to tell us all about, but please keep to two sheets of paper. When I get the letter from Annie, we have completed one round robin.
I take out my letter and start it all over again with a new letter.“
An excerpt fromHappiness Doesn’t Come Easy – A Nash Sisters Novel
Elaine said, “Mrs. Walsh, do you know what is happening right now? You are being surrounded by the white light of love and protection.”
Lelia walked to me and bent down on her knees. She looked up at me and spoke as if amazed, “I saw it too. I have heard tell of it but never seen it. Oh Lord, thank you for answering our prayers. Your heart is healing. I can see it. Can you feel it, Miss Annie?”
It was strange but true. I felt something. It was someone’s hand on my shoulder. It felt like positivity radiating around me. When we were children at church, the preacher used to talk about the hand of God. I don’t think it was that. It was our Momma’s hand covering Dianne’s hand, covering Thomas’s small hand. I said to Lelia, “I feel love and caring. I feel strength from that. I feel happiness without guilt.”
Those two wonderful women came near to envelope me and baby Dianne in their arms. That caress was powerful. You, my sisters, were all in it with me. I cried as hard as I have ever cried. Elaine spoke in a soothing voice, “Cry, dear woman. Cry until you can’t anymore. You are protected.”
Annie Nash Walsh, in my second novel, experiences the white light of love and protection. My good friend, Cheryl lost her husband. This reminds me of how that might feel.