Tag: The Beauty of What Remains
Susan Hadler

Susan Johnson Hadler

Caitlin Hamilton Summie Interviews Susan 

How hard was it to write this book?  The hardest part was fear of upsetting my family.  The first book I wrote, Lost in the Victory, which I co-authored with Ann Mix, touched my mother’s deep, deep pain at the death of her husband in WWII.  The family circled its wagons around Mother, and I was cut off from them for several years.  This time I was very careful to give everyone the chance to read the manuscript.  Their enthusiasm and help was indescribably precious to me and a source of encouragement beyond anything I could imagine.  I would have written it all down for my children and myself without their acceptance, but their trust and support kept me going all the way to a book.

My mother and her two sisters who had once been close were estranged until the search led me to them and to their families.  First I found Aunt Dorothy and Cousin Mickey.  (Click on”Reunion” to see more photos.)

Susan and Dorothy, 2004

Susan and Dorothy, 2004

 

Cousin Mickey, 2004

Cousin Mickey, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found Aunt Elinor alive and well at age 94 and then I found her children, John and Sandra.  Sandra and her daughter, Amy, came to see Elinor in July, 2008.  

 

Elinor & me

Elinor, Amy, and Sandra, July, 2008

Elinor, Amy, and Sandra, July, 2008

Laughlin Family, 1920

Laughlin Family, 1920

Margery, Dorothy, & Elinor, 1924

Margery, Dorothy, & Elinor, 1924

Family photos show three sisters.  The only one I knew was Margery, my mother, the middle sister.  The other two, Elinor and Dorothy were rarely mentioned and never seen until I found them close to the end of their lives, still singing.

Elinor, Dorothy, Margery, Ben, 1932

Elinor, Dorothy, Margery, Ben, 1932

Dorothy and Margery, 1930

Dorothy and Margery, 1930

Dave Johnson May, 1942

Dave Johnson
May, 1942

My father was 25 when he was killed in WWII.  I knew him only through the letter he wrote from Camp Lucky Strike on the north coast of France in the winter of ’45 to welcome me into the world.  The love in that letter lived inside of me until I began to search for him several years ago.  During the search I visited Luxembourg where his name is engraved on the Wall of Missing.  Now there is a marker with his name and the dates of his short life at Arlington Cemetery.

 

Almost everyone inherits some form of trouble from past generations.  I was born into a family with missing people, the result of war, family feuds and mental illness.  The door to information about them was locked and I didn’t have the key.  Who were they?  What happened to them?  Where were they?  Did I look like any of them?