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On My Own at 107: Reflections on Life Without Bessie Hardcover – February, 1997

5.0 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1995, at age 106, Sarah Delaney found herself living on her own for the first time in her life when her sister Bessie died at the age of 104. The remarkable Delaney sisters, strong, independent-minded African American women who shared a house for 40 years in Mount Vernon, N.Y., achieved fame in 1993 with their bestselling self-portrait, Having Our Say, which was followed by The Delaney Sisters' Book of Everyday Wisdom (both coauthored with Hearth). In a touching tribute to Bessie, Sarah addresses her sister directly, articulating her grief, despair, loss and loneliness. She also meditates on the afterlife, in which she firmly believes, and mingles childhood memories with recollections of their careers-Bessie was a dentist in Harlem, while Sarah became the first black woman high-school home economics teacher in New York City. Charmingly illustrated with color drawings of flowers (in honor of Bessie, a dedicated gardener), this unpretentious book conveys a wisdom that makes it a life-raft for anyone coping with the loss of a loved one. $150,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

"Letting go of you was the hardest thing I've ever done," says 107-year-old Sarah "Sadie" Delany about the death last year--at age 104--of her sister, Bessie. With coauthor Hearth, the sisters produced the fondly read best-seller, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (1994), in which they shared a wealth of observations and wisdom garnered from their incredible longevity. Now alone, Sadie still lives in the house in Mount Vernon, New York, that she shared with her sister. Sadie looks back over the past 12 months since Bessie's death, focusing, in particular, on the most poignant reminder of Bessie, the garden out back she loved so much. Sadie ponders life's differences without her beloved sibling; fortunately, her deep religious faith and her wonderful memories have given Sadie much to hold onto. This gentle, loving, inspirational account will appeal more to those who have read Having Our Say, but expect demand even from people who have not read the previous book. Brad Hooper
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 149 pages
  • Publisher: Harper San Francisco; 1st edition (February 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062514857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062514851
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read the first two books about these two remarkable sisters ("Having Our Say," and "The Delaney Sisters' Book of Everyday Wisdom") and they also deserve five stars each, absolutely. In fact, the best book, in terms of literary merit, is the first one, and I loved looking at the photos in the book of the whole family, going back a few generations.

But this book here really helped me in the first year of my husband's death. I read it at least once a week, usually more. I found strength in the fact that if Sadie could make it on her own after being practically attached at the hip for over 100 years to Bessie, and loving each other so much and so well, then I would somehow find the strength to go on too.

Sometimes I was so cried out, but I was still so sad and wanted to cry more, but the tears wouldn't come. The way the "as-told-to" author Hearth expressed Sadie's feelings always helped bring back those cathartic tears.

I read many books of comfort for the grieving widow, but for some reason, this little book near saved my life.
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Format: Hardcover
i think this book would be a wonderful source of comfort for ANYONE who has lost a partner or loved one...it is so 'upbeat' and positive that it would help the survivor cope with loss. it is delightfully written and offers a perspective from 107 years of life that most of us will not achieve! i am giving this book to friends who need comfort and a new perspective on continuing with their lives.
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By A Customer on July 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
Bessie was my favorite sister. She had so much fire and flare. I'll miss her. This book really allows people that have lost someone to understand that a relationships still exists even though a person isn't physically here. Sadie has pictures of Bessie's favorite flowers from her garden on every other page. It is the best tribute to a person's life that I have ever read or seen. This book proves that it is the simple moments of compassion that make a life so great!
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Format: Audio Cassette
Grief is pictured beautifully here as "Sadie" describes her first year after the death of her beloved sister with reference to the beautiful flowers Bessie always raised. The fall and winter of dormancy and renewal in her grief gradually gives way to the vibrancy of spring blooms and summer sun.

When Sadie sees the first spring flowers peeking through the snow, she realizes for the first time that she will grow through her grief. This is a stirring portryal of the experience we all face.
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Format: Audio Cassette
Sarah Delany is truly an inspiration as she speaks from her heart about coping with the loss of her sister. I found the flower sketches and comments relating to her sister to be very comforting. This book is a moving account of how it feels to lose someone close to you. Having lost both my parents last year--I found that this book made me feel a little better!
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By A Customer on September 2, 1997
Format: Audio Cassette
What a courageous and forthright account of the mourning of a soulmate. Having Our Say is complete with this little book as its follower. Sarah Delaney shares her inner thoughts in this moving chronicle of her first year without Bessie. Her strength at 107 years old is beautiful to witness. After my first reading, this book was sent to my own baby sister for her birthday
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently re-read this wonderful book as well as the preceding books by both Delany sisters and Amy Hill Hearth. They have been treasures on my bookshelf for years. This one is unique - imagine being 107 years old and still sharp in memory dealing with losing her beloved younger sister with whom she lived for well over 100 years. The memories! The challenges they faced together!
The love of family! They outlived their siblings and close friends and their contribution to the world thru their work, knowledge and joyful living is immeasureable. Sarah lived to 108.

If you have lost someone dear to you - partner, parent, child, friend, then this book will help you heal. There is life after loss and it takes time, but finding strength in faith will help. I love the intelligence of this woman as she inspires, reflects, and continues her journey living day to day with gratitude and compassion for others.

Don't miss this book and the two others by the Delany sisters who were "discovered" by Amy Hill Hearth. Discover secrets of longevity! Discover two different personalities and how they faced life with optimism and courage.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sadie and Bessie Delany lived together for over 100 years before Bessie died at the age of 104 in the home that the two sisters shared. They were well-educated African-American women in an era when few blacks or women attended college. Sadie was a teacher and Bessie worked as a dentist. The sisters were devoted to each other and Bessie's death was a severe blow to her older sister.

The original story about the sisters is told in "Having Our Say". This book by Sadie chronicles her experiences in learning to live without her sister in the difficult first year after Bessie's death. Sadie's faith, common sense, love, and wisdom come shining through in this little book.
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