Seasons of Sweetbriar
It was September 1992 when country music legend Alan Jackson and his wife Denise first set foot on Sweetbriar, a sprawling, 140-acre estate in Williamson County, TN. The couple was smitten with the property’s beauty; hugged by the Harpeth River; skirted with equestrian estates; nestled in a valley at the foot of Tennessee hills.
Their hearts were warmed at the thought of raising their family here, watching their children learn and grow on this land, budding into young adults as the years rolled by. Sweetbriar was the final brushstroke in the Jackson family portrait; the land, blessed with ample wildlife and rich greenery, was where they would build their home.
And after five years of cleaning up the used-to-be horse farm, designing, planning and building, Sweetbriar was ready for the Jacksons in July 1997, just six weeks before Alan and Denise’s third daughter was born.
As expected, with the distinct, vibrant beauty of each passing season at Sweetbriar, memories were made and moments cherished. And the Jackson girls, Mattie, Ali and Dani, inevitably continued to blossom, too. And when the oldest, Mattie, was in high school, Alan started thinking about his girls leaving their home.
With that, he realized he couldn’t let the girls leave Sweetbriar without something to take with them, something to look at when they’re homesick and something to bring them back to warm summer days, playing with their puppies by the lake and watching the sun set in the water’s still reflection. And since Alan is an avid photographer in his free time, the Seasons of Sweetbriar idea was born.
Over the next year, Alan captured the beauty of each season at the estate through a lens, finally compiling all of the images in a book, Seasons of Sweetbriar, for Mattie’s graduation gift.
“For [Alan] to be an amateur photographer, he really did do an astounding job with these photos,” Denise says, affirming the artistry of each image. The book is a hardbound coffee table piece with more than 200 photographs of the landscape, buildings, ponds, trees, wildlife and other generous allowances from Mother Nature.
When they realized the beauty and significance of Seasons of Sweetbriar, the Jacksons shared this gift with close family and friends and now wish to open this opportunity to you, too. And the added benefit? The full purchase price of each book will be donated to the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Blue Hope Financial Assistance Program, benefitting colon cancer patients in need.
Because in December 2010, barely six months after the couple sold the Sweetbriar estate, Denise was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. She was a picture of health and only 50 years old.
“That rocked my world, as I’m sure it does every person who gets a cancer diagnosis,” she explains. “That really brought to my attention the CCA and awareness and what your organization does. It became an obvious way for us to be able to do something meaningful with these books and be able to raise money.”
And as someone who had no risk factors aside from turning 50 that year, Denise has a message to send: “I have absolutely no family history of any kind of cancer. I’m not overweight; I eat healthy; I do aerobic exercise; I’ve never smoked in my life. I would have never suspected that I would have had this diagnosis. My message to people is that you can do all the right things and it can still happen.”
This is why Denise joins the CCA in urging the importance of regular screenings, which foster early detection and more effective treatment. “Be proactive and do not delay getting a colonoscopy,” she advocates. She also encourages anyone with rectal bleeding to see a gastroenterologist immediately, as colon cancer is significantly more curable when caught early and this is what led to her cancer being discovered.
After 30 days of radiation and two rounds of chemotherapy, Denise has been blessed with a clean bill of health. And this trying experience left her with a fresh outlook. “[My cancer diagnosis] changed everything,” she says. “When you’re confronted with your mortality, it’s so cliché but so true that it changes your perspective on life and what’s important…You just don’t take anything for granted anymore.”
And although the Jacksons no longer live at Sweetbriar, Denise flips through the thick, glossy pages of this photographic collection and recalls the many precious moments she and her family had at the estate. And one specific image in the summer section of the book especially plays on her heartstrings.
“The lush green pasture full of hay bales and the tree swing in our backyard remind me of summer days at Sweetbriar, watching our three girls riding their bikes, swimming, playing in the creek and Alan fishing nearby around the lake or one of the smaller ponds,” she reminisces.
Seasons of Sweetbriar can be purchased through the official Alan Jackson website for $25 or $50 for a book autographed by Alan Jackson himself, while supplies last. Because of the Jackson’s generosity, 100 percent of proceeds will be donated to the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Blue Hope Financial Assistance Program. If you wish to donate more than $50, please purchase the book through the above site and then make your additional donation here in honor of the Jacksons. We sincerely thank Alan and Denise for their altruism and partnership in assisting colon cancer patients in need.