Edie Hand was twenty-one years old when her brother David was killed in a car accident.
“He was my best friend,” Edie says, looking regal in a black top with red trim, one arm resting on top of her white baby grand piano. Her spun-gold hair is awash in warm amber light from the lamp to her right; to her left stands a fully decorated six foot Christmas tree. Outside the window of her Colonial style home, the torrid August heat is enough to melt steel. The decorations, she explains, are for Christmas scenes being filmed for her documentary, The Last Ride, to be released later this year.
“It changed my course,” Edie continues. “I was headed to New York to be an actress.” Ten years later, another auto accident claimed her youngest brother Phillip. In 2002 her remaining brother Terry died of a brain aneurysm.
Born Edith Blackburn, Edie grew up in Burnout, Alabama. A 1969 graduate of Red Bay High School, Edie majored in business and theater at UNA while working three jobs. “And today I’m still working three jobs at sixty-five,” she says with a chuckle.
Edie has led a busy life; for several years she played “Pearl” in a series of Carl Cannon TV commercials. She has hosted radio and TV talk shows, appeared on As The World Turns, owned an ad agency, authored and co-authored over twenty books, and founded the nonprofit Edie Hand Foundation, which benefits two children’s hospitals. And that’s only a partial list.
She has also fought her own battles with health. “I have struggled with chronic illness and cancer all of my adult life,” Edie says. “My health will not allow me to do a lot of things I want to do, but I have learned that it’s not how long you’re here, it’s what you do with how long you are here. In this last season of my life, I wanted to be able to write and produce television programming and some film.”
The Last Ride, based on her novella The Last Christmas Ride and starring Linc Hand (Edie’s son), is produced by Leigh Ann Bishop and directed by Scott Mauldin of Vulcan Media. The film documents the story of the Blackburn boys and how Edie turned her grief into a positive force to help others. “It’s exciting that this team was able to help me keep a promise to my brother [Terry]” she says. “He said, ‘Use your writing to let people remember the Blackburn boys, and I want them to know the importance of acts of kindness to one another.’”
“He gave me this horse shoe,” Edie says, fingering a charm on her necklace. “He said, ‘I want you to wear this upside down and just remember that my luck ran out.’”
Speaking in slow, measured tones, Edie exhibits a confidence and grace acquired only through experience. “It has been a labor of love to bring this story to life, to share my grief, and to show the goodness in my life that gives me the compassion to pay life forward,” she says. “That’s what I’ve tried to do with the Edie Hand Foundation. These three boys didn’t realize that they were forming my purpose in life. I am riding their last ride, in the last season of my life.” 78
For more information about Edie Hand, visit ediehand.com
To make a donation to the Edie Hand Foundation, visit http://ediehand.com/foundation-donations/
Images by Blakeney Cox
Originally Published in 78 Magazine in Oct/Nov 2016