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Sheena Summerfield was born to a Danish mother and a British/South African father, somewhere on the wild coast of Africa. It was written in her mother’s diary that the town was “Butterworth” in the Transkei. The mother sat up and pulled her out, delivering with the help of the kitchen maid, a sort of self delivery—the maid could hardly speak English and there was never a birth record.
During the Second World War, her father went away with the Sappers engineering core and she and her siblings were placed in a German community boarding school in the countryside.
For pocket money Sheena wrote all the other students compositions—”10 bob a compo.” 10 shillings was half a British pound in those days. The Principal was an Afrikaans gentleman. When she left school he told her she had a talent for writing and that she should consider it as a career. Instead she went into beauty and fashion and became a well-known model. Wed to an English gentleman who had settled in Africa in the 60’s the couple settled in Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe. When her daughters were of age they were sent on a trip around the world in lieu of the usual coming of age party. They both married Americans and settled in California. Another love of Sheena’s life was her garden and every day, when the garden staff went to lunch, for 2 1/2 hours she took to writing a story from her imagination—and germinated a seed of a different kind, “Where the wild lilies grow.”
The wonderful country of Rhodesia was smothered by a sad, cruel and wicked bush war. Despite the fact that it was nominated the bread basket of Africa, during this bush war: guns shot through windows, AK47’s, dogs poisoned, children killed, horses with hooves slashed off left bleeding to death, boy soldiers, farmers murdered, barbed wire and high walls… People fled. No doctors, no equipped hospitals, no law and order, bank accounts emptied, and finally no food. Aids and disease rampant. Politics changed everyone’s lives.
Gerald, her loving husband, succumbed to cancer and what remained of the family moved to America, leaving her beloved garden and most of the family possessions behind. Sheena was packing up in the library, lying on the floor, where the little pile of black school exercise books, her lunchtime writings, hand written, caught her eye… throw those books into the container security, she said—the container for America!