By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Bolton/Hudson – Elizabeth Tewksbary, a Hudson native now residing in Bolton, is the mother and grandmother of a blended family of six children and six grandchildren. Now, she’s also an author.
Her five-part children’s book series is based on handwritten letters that she sent during the 2020 stay-at-home advisory to her granddaughter Cohen, now age 3.
“I’ve always preferred handwritten letters,” Tewksbary noted. “When I see handwriting, I recognize it and think of that person. It’s definitely more personal.”
‘Letters from My Heart’
Cohen began getting letters when Tewksbary was quarantined in April 2020 with her husband recovering from his surgeries and their youngest daughter home from college. Meanwhile, Tewksbary received grateful phone calls from Cohen’s mother and encouragement from her husband to publish what is now known as the series’ moniker: “Letters from My Heart.”
Self-described as “not a digital person,” Tewksbary researched various publishing options online.
Among her reasons to self-publish is to give 30% of the series’ proceeds after costs to Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress. Three generations of her family have volunteered for the organization’s annual fundraiser.
“My goal was never to make money from the books,” she explained. “My nephew’s 5-year-old daughter, Jenna, has Down syndrome. When she was born, we got involved with the Buddy Walk in Westborough.”
Tewksbary is also giving 20% of each of the series five books’ proceeds to other charities. Additionally, books are being donated to multiple nonprofits including Cradles to Crayons, which provides essential items to children living in low-income or homeless situations.
Geared for children age 2 to 6, the books are being released throughout several months. The first two were published in 2020.
Sharing family memories
The series debuted with “Just Like Me” in which Cohen discovers and befriends her shadow. It’s benefitting Camp Sunshine for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Tewksbary has volunteered at the camp.
A timely pandemic topic gets an age-appropriate spin in “My Mask and Me.” Cohen learns how her eyes express the smile behind her mask. It’s benefitting Champs Café, where students with special needs work side-by-side with neurotypical fifth-graders.
Tewksbary ushered in 2021 with the January release of “Smile with Me,” benefitting Friends of Bolton Seniors. She formerly served as a Friends board member.
The series’ final two books are scheduled to be released by spring.
In the fourth book, Cohen gets to play with a variety of balls – and learns a lesson along the way.
“There are so many different types of balls and they all have a purpose,” Tewksbary noted. “People are like that, too.”
In the fifth book, Cohen learns about family responsibilities as she paints a birdhouse where the mother bird’s nest protects her eggs. Tewksbary also learned a lesson while observing Cohen’s painting project.
“Cohen had paint running down her arms and all over the place,” Tewksbary relayed, describing her granddaughter’s visual image. “I’m looking at her and thinking that we hold onto memories like this.”
Tewksbary headlined her website “I Took a Picture with My Heart.” The website was built by her nephew Justin D’Angelo. He also trained the internet novice how to maintain it.
‘Stepping up to help’
Benefitting from the final two books are nonprofits that assist people with food insecurity in several towns: Hudson Community Food Pantry (serves Berlin, Bolton and Hudson) and the Clinton-based WHEAT Community Connections (serves Berlin, Bolton, Clinton, Lancaster and Sterling).
“Now with COVID, people are out of work and really struggling,” Tewksbary said. “People are stepping up to help and I want to be a part of that.”
Illustrated by Kim Soderberg with graphics by Mark Collins, the books can be purchased and/or donated to nonprofits online on her website letters-from-my-heart.com. They’re also sold in Bolton at Colonial Candies, Bolton Orchards and The Quilted Crow.