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So Damn Tough…

Thanks to the intercession and help of many skin-clad angels, the Penniman book is so close to the finish line. Heretofore, my friend Milton has done most of the proofreading, because reading this manuscript sends me into such a tailspin that I invariably end up sobbing or in a bad state - for hours.

Every page, every jot and every tittle is a painful memory now. Wayne sat right with me - for five years - as I ruminated over every paragraph. He and I talked for hours about the difference between shrapnel shells and high explosive shells. We discussed the minutiae of the layout of the village, the styling of the houses, the logistics of moving those houses, the manufacturing of Amatol (TNT) and every other detail that one can imagine.

We laughed and we talked and we argued and in one memorable moment, he came up with an inspired solution to a very thorny problem and I said, “You must be the most brilliant man walking this earth,” and I (again) told him how much I adored him, and then pulled him out of his chair and into the bedroom and said, “Your intellect is such a turn-on.”

Little did I know that that would be the last time that I was intimate with my husband.

After his death, I found out that my adoration of my spouse was not reciprocal. It has nearly broken me.

Too many people have said, “You need to move on and forget about Wayne.”

That’s not helpful. He was my husband. Our lives were inextricably linked for a decade. He was the man that I promised to love forever. And he left me with one hell of a mess.

This manuscript is also a vociferous memory of that former life and former home and former Rosemary. There are days when that life feels almost like a fuzzy dream, and that’s also unsettling.

It’s taking every single thing I have to get this book completed. I’m not sure that I can proofread it again, but I know that I must. Let’s hope I can plow through it one last time, and emerge from the other side without losing it.

All of which is to say, when this book - in its finalized and published form - sees the light of day, it will be a miracle of grace.

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On April 9, 2016, I wrote this blog expressing great joy that the book was nearly finished.

To read more about Penniman, click here.

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The manuscript has been completed and proofed by a dear friend, but in truth, I need to read it myself one more time - cover to cover. And its so damn tough.

The manuscript has been completed and proofed by a dear friend, but in truth, I need to read it myself one more time - cover to cover. And it's so damn tough.

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The research materials are now at my rental home, where they sit in the living room, just in case I need the notes for some reason.

The research materials are now boxed and stored at my rental home, where they sit in the living room, just in case I need the notes for some reason. My faithful companion guards them.

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When Wayne came home, I insisted he pose here too.

This photo was taken on April 9, 2016 and was the last photo I have of Wayne Ringer. He killed himself seven days later. When he came home that day on April 9th, I asked him to "look erudite" and this was the pose he struck. I adored him, and he knew it, but those feelings weren't reciprocal.

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These were the books that I used most often.

The manuscript - and everything associated with it - are a memory of my life pre-April 2016. That's part of what makes this so agonizing. These were the notebooks that I referenced most often, a collection of newspaper articles from the "Virginia Gazette" and the "Daily Press."

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A street scene of the now-lost village of Penniman.

A street scene of the now-lost village of Penniman. The streets are mud and the houses are fresh and new. The village was built in 1918 and abandoned in early 1920. Photos are courtesy of the Whisnant family.

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On April 9, 2016, I did this blog expressing great joy that the book was nearly finished.

To read more about Penniman, click here.

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  1. Kimberly
    May 12th, 2017 at 21:55 | #1

    If you are saying your husband was able to leave you because he didn’t love you, I don’t think that is the case.

    I thought for the longest time that if my dad loved me he would not have taken his life.

    I have come to realize that he was in a very dark place that nothing could get him out of.

  2. May 13th, 2017 at 06:47 | #2

    Hi Kimberly,

    That’s part of what makes suicide so horrible - there are no answers and no two suicides are alike.

    In my husband’s case, it wasn’t depression. It was something else. Took me more than a year to figure it out, but it wasn’t depression.

    Thanks so much for leaving a comment. And my heart goes out to you for having lost your father in such a way.

  3. Pam Jenkins
    May 15th, 2017 at 13:38 | #3

    Of course you cannot move on and forget about him, well meaning but rather insensitive sentiments.

    Sometimes people cannot deal with someone else’s grief and they would, for their own sake, prefer not not hear about it. Don’t listen to them, they are wrong.

    Grieve as long and as deeply as you need.

    Talk about it until you run dry and then talk about it again.

    Meanwhile, you have almost single-handedly shown light on formerly forgotten major historic housing, which is beginning to fascinate all sorts of people.

    Pretty impressive, I’d say.

  4. Carole Duckett
    May 17th, 2017 at 18:40 | #4

    I’m interested in purchasing one of your precious copies if some remain!

    And as a neighbor, I should have no problem coming by to introduce myself and pick up my copy!

    Please feel free to email me. Best wishes and blessings to you on this very brave and fruitful journey of yours.

    Good things are coming!

  5. May 17th, 2017 at 22:58 | #5

    Hi Carole,

    Send me an email with your address. You can email me at pennimanva@gmail.com.

    Rosemary

  6. Carol Bumbacco
    May 19th, 2017 at 22:16 | #6

    Rosemary,

    Not sure if you want to explain why you conclude it was not depression, but once again I reiterate, THIS WAS NOT YOUR FAULT, do not take any ownership of this.

    One more query: There has not been any mention of your daughters throughout this heartbreaking ordeal.

    I would hope that they have been there for you. Love yourself first and foremost.

    Take care,

    Carol

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