I sank even deeper from frantically boxing up books I wanted to keep and carrying the heavy boxes into the spare room, lining them along the wall. I could not possibly take 500+ books with me. I bagged up most of them to donate to the Shepard’s Inn and Goodwill. Each day I was soaked with perspiration and exhaustion. I couldn’t accept the help offered because I had to choose which books to keep.
I woke at midnight with pounding heart palpitations. Message: no more carrying super heavy boxes of books. I adjusted my routine and carried piles of books into the room, over and over again, then boxed them.
The following midnight my guide came to me with a message. ‘Stay calm. This move is meant to be. All will be well.’
For 2 years I looked in the South Hill area for an apartment to rent. The only one I found had 40 other applicants waiting in line ahead of me. House maintenance dragged me deeper and deeper. I just couldn’t keep up with taking care of all the little things than need attention. I loved my home but could not manage the work involved to upkeep it any more. The City even sent a notice to me-cut your grass or we will cut it for you. Not beneficial to me, I knew. Thankfully, I found someone to take care of cutting the grass regularly. That was one less job to drain my energy. That brought me super high again.
The buyers came with the inspector. I liked them immediately! This house needs young people to fill it, but more than that, a joyful energy came in the door with them. I couldn’t have chosen a better fit for the house if I had hand-picked them. As we chatted a little bit, I was even more impressed and pleased. I liked meeting who was moving in to take over the house. The house is more than sticks and stone, it deserves good people. Another high.
The Captain and I returned to our normal routine but it took him nearly a week to trust me again. Then his desire to be stroked and petted overcame him and he leapt up onto my lap nuzzling me with his face. He even climbs around my neck and rests on my shoulder.
From left: Thomas Park, Arlene Bice, Sterling Cheston, Anita Merriweather Williams
WAM photo by C. Myrick Hendricks
It’s done. It’s over. The Warren Artists’Market team, shown here, helped me to create a great evening to enjoy the delicious baked goodies, lattes, and pots of tea of Susan Long at Lloyd’s Bakery last night. We socialized to Sterling’s musical selections in the background, Thomas performed his always interesting literary references while introducing me to a great group of people, and Anita showed her support. I let whatever words about writing the book flow, incidences in the book, and a few strange synchronicities about the book.
My emotions ran high when I answered some questions. Talking about what I wrote means that I relive the moment again. Since I had written these emotions, when I spoke them this time, I was able to get through the drama with only a few glitches in my voice. That’s a big difference from being unable to speak of some tragedies and near tragedies, that I’ve lived through, over many years.
I am extremely grateful for the audience of last night. They were kind, gentle, and engrossed when I spoke. Love. It’s all around in so many different forms that it fits all of us.
Waiting so long to write about the strange things that happened to me was a natural decision. I first spoke about seeing a ghost while I was working in my bookshop in Bordentown, New Jersey. This came freely because I was conducting an annual ghost walk as a fund raiser for my business group. There were other houses on the tour that also had true stories of hauntings. There is a comfort and freedom when you are among your own kind. And people who lived with ghosts in their houses were my kind.
Once word got out that I lived with a little girl ghost in my house, others came to me with their stories. They, too, had not spoken of their experiences for the same reasons. One, who would believe them? Two, how many people would ridicule and make fun of them? Three, would the value of their homes drop? And more reasons followed.
Once houses were placed on the tour, they became, if any change at all, higher in value. People sought haunted houses to live in because they wanted that experience. It became cool.
Remember, Bordentown was settled in 1682, adding much Revolutionary War history to its stories. The earlier residents were practically still living to the present-day residents. We kept their personalities alive and familiar through the Historical Society and through fund raisers. One of which was a Friday evening garden party at the DeSantis house. Several of us dressed in our chosen Bordentown “hero/shero.” We had many to choose from.
The first year I wore all white as was the custom of Quaker Patience Lovell Wright. She was America’s first woman sculptor (mostly in wax) who spied in the court of King George in England, sending all the information she discovered to Benjamin Franklin. He was living in France at the time.
Once we entered the garden in costume, we became that person, staying in character, answering questions as that person would have done. It was great fun and imbedded history into our bones. I’m not quite sure about Ms. Wright drinking wine, tho she could have. No wonder ghosts came out of the woodwork!
Well, it’s finally here and it is a great relief! Writing this book, A Nosegay of Violets, has been therapeutic, sending all those hidden secrets out into the Universe with a refusal of thinking “what if someone laughs at me?” or “what if no one believes me?” or “what will they think of me, knowing of the marriage I was in? “
Those questions no longer hold fear for me. I have survived the marriage and became stronger because of it. I have forgiven myself for decisions I made, (the hardest thing to do) believing they were the right ones to make at the time. And I have forgiven others who did me harm. They were just being who they were. And I had help along the way, from people-sometimes strangers-from friends, from family, and an Angel here and there when no one else was around to show up. WOW!
You’d think those would be easy moments to talk about, but they were not. Fear of rejection held me back. When I overcame that fear last year, I pulled all the scraps of paper with notes jotted on them and poured over my journals to be sure I would get everything right. It meant re-living the entire experience over again and again and again as I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote. Excuse me, while I allow myself to have this feeling of being wonderful!
Were you taught to not write or mark your books when you were growing up? Teachers especially stressed that the books loaned to us for class had to be reused the next year and the year after that. Strong words were spoken about the love and care of books.
That love and care of books remains with me today and the memories of those teachers. Yet after decades of keeping my books pristine has changed drastically.
In the 90s I came to appreciate and to buy mostly used books. Often I would open a book to see a personal note written on the flyleaf by someone gifting the book. This brought me into the scene of the giver and receiver. A privilege; almost like being invited to share a confidence.
Pictured here, the John Woolman, American Quaker by Janet Whitney book, a first edition published in May 1942, is inscribed, To Cousin Gertrude, a Direct Descendent of John Woolman, with love and best wishes, from H…. Hutchinson Cook. The dots replace the writing I could not read. The first initial could be an H or a TH. I wonder about the relationship between these two cousins. I imagine the delight she felt with receiving this gift. He sounds happy to have found this book for her to read.
The original price in the book is $3.75. It is listed online for $33.00 to $85.00. For serious book collectors the inscription would lower the value of the book. I think of it as adding value.