by Joni Astrup
Nearly 20 years ago, Cheryl Hathaway wrote a children’s book, then filed it away and forgot about it.
She found the manuscript recently while going through some files and felt compelled to have it published.
“It was like the Lord was saying, ‘Do something with this,’” said Hathaway, of Otsego.
She eventually found a Christian publisher in Florida, Xulon Press, and the book began to take shape. Called “A Changed Life,” it was published in April and is available online at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble for $9.99.
The book is primarily written for children ages 6 to 9 who live in homes where there are issues related to alcohol, Hathaway said. It is illustrated by Hathaway’s friend, Denise Waskosky, who used to teach art at Rivers Christian Academy in Elk River.
The book takes readers back to Hathaway’s early years in Crystal, Minnesota, where she grew up as the child of an alcoholic father.
“It was not a happy childhood,” Hathaway said.
Her dad drank alcohol after work and would get mean and loud. At times, he told her she was ugly, stupid and worthless.
“When you’re little, you kind of believe that,” Hathaway said.
After she graduated from Robbinsdale High School, she couldn’t wait to leave home.
Hathaway went to St. Cloud State University, where she became friends with a young woman named Debbie. One day Hathaway walked into Debbie’s dorm room, where she was reading the Bible.
“I didn’t know that people actually read the Bible,” Hathaway wrote in her book. “I thought that it was just an old-fashioned book that just sat on our coffee table in the living room at home.”
But Debbie told her that all of the answers for life were in the Bible, and that Jesus loved her and died on the cross for her. “We knelt by her bed and I asked Jesus to come into my heart,” Hathaway wrote in the book.
She remembers feeling happy and as if heavy weights had been lifted off her shoulders. She also felt love.
As a result, Hathaway said she was able to forgive her father and enjoyed a much better relationship with him in later years.
Hathaway went on to become an elementary music teacher and taught for 35 years in the St. Michael-Albertville School District. Now retired, she still works as a substitute teacher and gives piano and guitar lessons through St. Michael-Albertville Community Education. She also performs in Elk River Community Theatre productions. Most recently, she was Mrs. Potts in one of the two “Beauty and the Beast” casts.
Hathaway and her husband, Mark, have been married for 36 years and have lived in Otsego since 1983. They have two children and five grandchildren.
It’s been many years since Hathaway lived in a home with an alcoholic father. She said she feels healed but remembers how sad she felt as a child. She hopes her new book will help children facing similar challenges.
As Hathaway explains on the book’s back cover, “This book is intended to bring help, encouragement and hope to children who are living in a home that is facing alcohol issues. It also purposes to show how God’s love can heal and transform their life, despite desperate situations.”