‘We hope it helps lots of people’

By on March 3, 2023

Judith Hahs (right) and her granddaughter Summer Abigail co-wrote “The More People Who Love You…” (Photo credit: Corinne Saunders/OBV)

A grandmother and granddaughter write a book about dealing with loss

When she lost her daughter—and her two grandchildren lost their mother—Judith Hahs couldn’t find an appropriate resource to validate what her grandchildren were going through. So she decided to create one.

“The whole reason I started this project is because I couldn’t find books for my grandchildren that were relevant to their age and their time,“ she said.  Many books dealing with such a loss were either written for older audiences or were written long ago, Hahs explained.

Hahs co-wrote “The More People Who Love You…” with her then-eight-year-old granddaughter, whose pen name is Summer Abigail, with the story told from her granddaughter’s perspective. Local artist James Melvin illustrated the book.

Hahs’ daughter, Jennifer Hahs Wall, died in November 2018 at age 36 of bile duct liver cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). A portion of the book proceeds go to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation in her honor.

On Thursday, March 2, the three third-grade classes at First Flight Elementary School (FFES) filed into the media center to hear Hahs read that book and some of her poetry. Many students and teachers were dressed as various book characters to celebrate National Read Across America Day. Abigail, now nine and in third grade, was among them.

The book’s back cover features a handwritten note by Abigail: “This book is about my life. I hope it helps other kids who read it. It’s hard losing someone you love but the more people who love you the better.”

“Stacey Hanf, our awesome librarian, coordinated this for our students for Read Across America and we are so proud of Summer for publishing her first book,” FFES Principal Sara Fletcher said in an email.

Read Across America started when the National Education Association established it in 1998 on March 2, the birthday of author Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

Hahs discussed different types of writing with the students, noting that she began writing a journal when she was in the third grade. She read several of her poems, and then noted that one type of nonfiction, autobiographies, tell about people’s lives.

“Writers who do this are brave,” Hahs said. “They’re putting their own life out there—their own history for everybody to read. Would you all do that?”

Students responded with a mixed chorus of “Yeah!” and “No!”

“Well, there’s somebody here in your grade that’s a very brave person and co-wrote a book with me,” Hahs stated.

“Thing 1!,” many students responded enthusiastically, as that was Abigail’s costume.

Hahs read the book’s inside jacket, which begins, “When a child experiences the death of a parent, they can feel lost and confused.” She asked if anybody had lost someone in their family or had a close friend who had that happen in their family. About half the students raised their hands.

“So you can understand that,” she said, noting the range of emotions from sadness to anger.

In the question-and-answer time after reading the book, Hahs asked about the themes found in the book, and one student observed that there was a heart on every page. Another pointed out how some illustrations were in black-and-white, and some were color.

“That was intended,” Hahs confirmed, explaining how the main character’s sadness is shown in the grayscale illustrations, and color is slowly added in until the last page is in full color.

“The girl was never going to forget her mother, but she knows it’s ok to let other people love her and let other people into her life,” Hahs said.

“Is this book made to help people?” one student queried.

“We hope it helps lots of people,” Hahs replied. “I can tell you something that happened recently…a lady who was in her 60s said to me that she read the book, and she said, ‘You know, that was exactly how I felt, and I never knew that all those things that I felt were ok.’”

Hahs donated a copy of the hardback picture book to the school media center, and she gave each of the three third-grade classes a copy of her book of poetry.

For more information or to purchase “The More People Who Love You…” visit www.judithhahs.com or www.melvinsstudio.com.

 

A scholarship in memory of Jennifer Hahs Wall

Judith Hahs established the $1,000 “OBX Shipping Center Scholarship” three years ago in her daughter’s honor for graduating high school seniors who will continue their education beyond high school.

Hahs co-owned the OBX Shipping Center with her daughter, Jennifer Hahs Wall (Feb. 25, 1982-Nov. 20, 2018), who was a graduate of East Carolina University and who was consistently involved with the student body and the community, Hahs said.

The scholarship application involves a statement of financial need; two letters of recommendation; and an essay detailing peer and organizational involvement in high school and in the community. Applying students should also note how continuing education will help them achieve their career goals.

Hahs awarded five scholarships in 2021, five in 2022 and will award four $1,000 scholarships this year.

Scholarship application materials are housed at First Flight High School, but students from any of the three Dare County high schools can apply.

For more information, interested high school seniors should talk to their respective school guidance counselors.



Comments

  • Thomas

    What a touching story! I have used the OBX Shipping Center many times and had no idea about this story. God bless Judith Hahs for her efforts to make the world more bearable for her granddaughter and others who have experienced loss.

    Saturday, Mar 4 @ 11:15 am
  • charlie

    Anyone who ever met Jennifer Hahs Wall immediately fell in love with her.. A daughter, a wife, and a mother…and an exceptional business person…She was all four…and more….
    I read the book through my eyes blurred by tears…Tears of sadness but also tears of an amazing pride in Summer…And thankful tears to Judy, James, Brent and Jason and Nikki Wall for making this story and book come to life…
    At some points in all of our lives we will lose loved ones. It would then be good to reread this simple little book… Thank you Summer..

    Saturday, Mar 4 @ 1:33 pm
  • Rosemary

    What an uplifting and beautiful story and such a gift to the community. Thank you!

    Wednesday, Mar 8 @ 8:34 am