I didn’t know Sheri very long or very well. But it was long and well enough to know she was a very special lady.

We first met when I joined our neighborhood book club. At the first meeting I attended, we chatted quite a bit before the book discussion got going, and talked as much about writing as we did about reading. Sheri was an active member of the Georgia Writers Museum, which I was interested in but hadn’t been to yet.

Our book club usually meets at each other’s homes, with the host providing snacks and lunch. When it was Sheri’s turn to host, she prepared a luncheon at the Georgia Writers Museum. That month’s book was The Poisonwood Bible, which is set in Africa, and Sheri served us a delicious array of African dishes. As someone who has been to Uganda four times and who loves the food there – I sometimes joke that the food is the reason I keep going back – I enjoyed the meeting even more. Sheri was a wonderful host and discussion leader, in spite of having a scratchy throat and a raspy voice, which she kept apologizing for. She also warned us not to get too close to her, in case she was still contagious with whatever it was she had.

You probably know where this is heading. It turned out that Sheri didn’t have a cold or garden-variety sore throat. Or pneumonia, or any of the other conditions it might have been. She had cancer.

Not long after that book club meeting, Sheri invited me to a “Meet and Greet” event at the Georgia Writers Museum. “Please add this to your ‘To do’ list,” her email said. “You have so many skills that will be an asset to GWM.”

Sheri wasn’t able to make it to that meeting, so I emailed her afterwards to let her know I attended and enjoyed the event. When I told her I was looking forward to getting more involved, she said she was happy to hear that. By this time, she knew she was dying, and she said she was hoping I’d step in and do some of the work she was no longer able to do.

At our last book club meeting, we learned that Sheri had gone into hospice. On Wednesday of this past week, we received an email from the head of the book club letting us know that Sheri had passed away the night before.

In the few days since then, I learned some things about Sheri that I didn’t know, but that didn’t surprise me. She loved to travel, and always brought gifts and souvenirs back for her family and friends. She loved to cook and bake, and never went anywhere empty-handed. Once, when a friend was bemoaning an all-day strategy session that was going to take place on her birthday, Sheri arrived at the meeting with a birthday cake. She loved parties, especially at Halloween, and always had her house decked out top to bottom with decorations that would put Disney’s Haunted Castle to shame.

On Thursday, I was at the Georgia Writers Museum for a meeting, and part of the conversation was, of course, about Sheri. After the meeting, one of the members said to me, “You know, I look at you, and I see Sheri. You’re her legacy.”

I can think of no greater compliment. I don’t think I can do her justice, but I’m certainly going to try.

Rest in peace, Sheri. You are loved. You are missed. And your legacy will live on. In me, and in us all.

March 3, 2018
©Betty Liedtke, 2018

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