Sarah Weathersby is a self-described “retired geek and card-carrying-radical Old Broad.” She was born in the rectory of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Petersburg, Virginia during the time that her Daddy was rector. She attended segregated public schools in Petersburg until her Mother died, and she was sent to live in Washington, DC with her brother and his wife. Sarah graduated from high school in Washington, and went on to college at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey where she majored in German Literature and spent a junior year in Munich. She met her first husband while he was a student in the Theological School at Drew. They settled in North Carolina and raised two sons. Sarah earned her MBA from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. After the death of her husband, she found her long-lost daughter who inspired her memoir, Motherless Child, stories from a life, her first published work. She lives in Raleigh with her second husband, when they are not traveling from Agadir to Maui, riding camels or bicycles.
Learning more about Sarah is easy; just head to one of the following places: her website // her blog // Facebook // Twitter
-The Secret that Became a Celebration
Imagine you gave a baby up for adoption forty years ago, and after years of trying to find her, she finds you. Now come the hard questions. She's healthy, beautiful, and successful, but she wants to know why you gave her away and why you didn't marry her father. And there is also the unspoken question of "What kind of black woman gives her baby away?" How do you explain to her that giving her away was the best gift you could offer? This is Sarah Weathersby's first published work, a coming-of-age-in-the-sixties-single-black-pregnant and on the way to Germany, memoir.
I never thought I would find Teal’s father almost forty years after I last heard from him. Jimmy is such a common name that I didn’t even try searching on the internet until the last remaining volume of my journal fell out of a box of tax receipts. I had written in the journal that he had married Paula. That turned out to be just enough information to find him as an associate with a full page on the Howard University website that had his photograph and enough other information for me to find a phone number as well. I was trembling when I left the message, “You will remember me as Sarah Gordon. I have some exciting news to tell you.”
He returned the call the next day, but he needed his teenaged son to help him with the call. He had had a stroke that affected the speech center of his brain. His speech wasn’t at all slurred, but it was difficult for him to put the words together especially over the phone. He remembered me, of course, and he seemed happy to hear I had found our daughter. Paula came on the line to explain that he might understand it all better if I wrote him a letter. That was going to make it easier for me as well; I was shaky, trying to say the right things, since I didn’t want to lose this contact. Teal wanted to meet her father.
It had been only three months since I had met our daughter, the child I gave up for adoption so long ago. I had tried many years to find her, and even signed up with the Adoption Registry, but until she decided to look for her birth mother, they would not give out the contact information. The idea of looking for her birth parents never crossed her mind until she became a mother herself. And now she wanted to know why I gave her up.
I called Teal to tell her that I had found her father. She seemed relieved that another piece of the puzzle was completed, and happy to know there was more family for her to meet. She had already developed a strong connection with my son Joshua through regular phone calls, and she hoped to have that same connection with Jimmy’s daughters. I wrote to Jimmy, and sent photos to Paula and their daughters by email. The following month she met all of her long-lost family on both sides, giving her the brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts as she had never had and always wished for.
The experience of finding Teal has been such a blessing, but also caused me to replay that time through my memory. I hardly remember the girl I was back then, and it’s difficult to sort out all the thought processes and reasons I gave myself. When I looked back over my life, I often wondered if I should regret giving a child away. How could I regret, when I didn’t know how the story ended? I knew that at the time, I could not have provided for Teal what two loving parents could give her. Now that I know they gave her more than I ever could have, I know it was the right decision for that time, and I have no regrets.
The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write? How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a female writer?
I write about the things that keep me awake at night, as well as the things that bring me joy. If you follow my blogs, the topics can be the trivial how to work my new camera or the gut-wrenching mental breakdown of a family member. I started writing poems as a little girl when my oldest brother went off to the Korean War.
My first published book Motherless Child – stories from a life is a memoir that focuses on my decision to give a child up for adoption and the years of not knowing where she was. The heart of the story touches on women’s relationships. My mother died of breast cancer when I was twelve years old, leaving me motherless, then I become the childless mother, and evolve to the point where I, in a sense, become my mother, finishing the life she wasn’t able to. The story is also a “coming-of-age-in-the sixties” story. As we baby boomers reach retirement, we will see a lot of those. But unlike some I have read from the “Woodstock” generation, mine speaks more of the Civil Rights Era. And although the experience transcends gender, I have to tell it from the heart of the girl that I was at the time.
I have two projects that I’m working on that also come from personal experience, more things that keep me awake at night. First is a murder mystery that takes place on the internet. It is loosely based on events that happened on a social networking site. In my 10 years of social networking on the internet, I have usually been the senior member of a circle of friends. People know me as “saraphen” and have come to trust me as a motherly advisor, telling me their secrets. The story is fiction with my fictional character as a sleuth. There was no murder in real life, but there was intrigue, a lot of humor, and the death of a dear friend. I hope I can write it to honor my friend and bring some closure to the grief.
The second project also comes from a woman’s perspective. I’m struggling with how to tell it without violating the privacy of a family member. It will become either a fictionalized account from the perspective of a mother, or non-fiction report of the failures of the mental health system and the black community’s inability to deal with mental illness.