Long time Hettinger native hopes book will encourage, inspire others facing adversity
By COLE BENZ | Record Editor
When tragedy strikes a family, a natural reaction might be to get under the covers, and force the light away.
But one mother wasn’t going to let that happen when a car accident left one of her children permanently disabled. And now she wants to tell her story in hopes of encouraging and empowering others who may be living in the same situation.
“The experience we had with our daughter, [I hope] would grant encouragement and incite to other families that would possibly have a disabled child,” author Edna Uecker said. “It will have fulfilled [the book’s] purpose.”
Uecker, a Hettinger native, has penned a book—titled ‘See You In The Morning’—about her and her family’s life after daughter, and sister, Sherida suffered a traumatic head injury when a drunk driver hit them one Sunday morning nearly 60 years ago.
The title of the book is a tribute to a little night-time prayer Uecker and Sherida shared each evening. Before the lights were out for the night, Uecker would end the prayer by saying “see you in the morning.” It was fitting, she said, that it be the title of the book.
Though the book was published in November, Uecker said she began keeping notes and diary entries that would make up the book early on in the family’s journey, in the 1960s.
Instead of sending their daughter to an institution for care, they decided they wanted her home with them, no matter the difficulties they would face. Early on in the recovery and beginning of Sherida’s care, Uecker said the family had little support, as there weren’t any agency presence in Hettinger at the time. Not even a social services office.
“I was very lonely and searching for somebody to talk to about having a disabled child,” she said. “So I said to myself then, if I ever have the time I’d like to write a book for these families that would someday have to go through what my husband and I went through when we had absolutely no assistance of any kind.”
Uecker faced many obstacles on her way to writing the book. She suffered the loss of Sherida, and her husband Charles, and then she had to overcome her own bout of illnesses. She made a major life decision and moved to New York to be with her daughter Korliss. Uecker also has a son, Jonathan, who lives in Minnesota.
When she got to New York, she said she sat on her writings for nearly two years before she was encouraged to get back to her craft. By the time Uecker got serious, and started to really edit her writings, it was 2013.
“This book didn’t come to fruition for many years,” she said.
She spent three years editing the book, with the help of friends and family, some haling from Hettinger. And once she finally held the first copy of her story, she said she didn’t want to read it. Citing her experience as a writer—Uecker spent years writing for many publications including the Adams County Record and the Dickinson Press—she said she didn’t want to read something, and wished she had said it differently.
“I think all writers go through that experience,” Uecker said.
This story isn’t the first time it has been published though. Uecker had previously submitted pieces of the project to the University of North Dakota Press, and the organization Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).
What Uecker does not want from the book is a wave of sympathy.
On the contrary.
She wants this book to show that having a disabled child does not define you or your family, and on many occasions, a normal life can be had.
“We had some really fun times, we camped, we went swimming, we did just a little bit of everything that normal families do,” she said. “It was just a little more work.”
Keep in the moment, she says, and that’s exactly what she did.
“I didn’t look back, and I didn’t look ahead,” Edna said. “It’s better to do a day at a time.”
The book is available locally at KB Jewelers.