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Ten Things You Should Never Say to a “Suicide Widow” (or Any Trauma Survivor)

July 1st, 2018 Sears Homes 8 comments

It’s been two years since The Bad Thing.

From my own life experience, I’d like to offer a list of things NOT to say to a suicide widow. As the title indicates, this might also apply to other trauma survivors.

First, some guiding principles.

Too often, “normies” try to fit a horrible trauma into a tidy box that dovetails with their world view. This is the one thing that should never be done, because while it makes the chatty visitor feel better, it will eviscerate the survivor.

When people talk to a survivor, they’re often trying to comfort themselves. Some folks like to reason out - mentally or verbally - why this horror could never happen to them. They want to put a framework around trauma, and thus isolate it in their own minds, and then they can take some solace believing (hoping) that they’re safe.

Secondly - do not attempt to compare your story to someone else’s: No two stories are the same and no two people are the same. There are many reasons for suicide, and it’s estimated that some degree of mental illness is involved in “about 90% of suicides” (according to online sources). Comparisons are always a bad idea, and ever more-so when it comes to complicated grief.

Below are real world examples of things I’ve been told, and in some cases, they caused a significant set-back in the healing process.

1) Only you can decide if you’re going to get over this.

This is probably one of the worst things you can say to someone who’s experienced trauma. I have yet to meet a trauma survivor who wouldn’t endure almost any treatment and/or any process if it would offer a respite from the hell in which they live. Telling me that “only I can decide” is a harsh comment that only inflicts additional suffering. It’s also dismissive of the intense mental anguish and emotional pain that accompanies suicide of a spouse or child.

2) You need to be grateful for what you have.

Advising me to be grateful makes all manner of negative assumptions about my spiritual journey. The emotional pain of suicide can be so crippling that normal thought processes go out the window. When word first came of my husband’s death, I tried to use my phone to make a call. I looked at the telephone and thought, “Why did I buy a device that I don’t know how to use?” I’d lost the ability to make a phone call. It was as though a nuclear bomb had detonated inside of my brain.

3) It’s been six months (or two years). Shouldn’t you be over this by now?

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. I’m never going to be “over” this. I can only hope that Carly Simon was right, and that there is “more room in a broken heart” because mine was shattered into a billion pieces. One day my heart will heal, but I’ll never be over this.

4) Rosemary, we all miss him. This isn’t just about you.

Yes, I’ve heard this from his co-workers and others. And yet these are the same people I saw at Wayne’s funeral, clinging to their own spouse a little tighter when they strolled past the closed casket. You lost your cousin, your boss, your lunch buddy. I lost my person; I lost the person that I handpicked out of seven billion people. I lost my anticipated future. I also lost my home and my social standing and my entire life.

5) If anything happened to my husband, I’d just lay down and die. He’s my whole world.

Following Wayne’s suicide, I suffered crippling chest pain that went on for months. Even now, a minor setback brings back that terrible pain. More than once, I laid down somewhere (often in my car so no one could find me) and waited for my heart to stop. It never did. I don’t know why. Too many times to count, I would pray at night that I would pass quietly in my sleep.

“Laying down and dying” is not an option. Apparently, the human body is very tough.

This comment also presumes that if I DON’T lay down and die, the bond I had with my husband wasn’t that strong. If I could die from a broken heart, I would have died 1001 times. Or more.

6) You don’t understand depression. It’s a pit so deep and so dark that there’s no way to make sense of anything.

There’s so much wrong with this statement. First, about 10% of suicides do not involve mental illness. Don’t presume to know why my husband killed himself because you DON’T know what you’re talking about. Secondly, how is it that I’m expected to buck up, shut up and carry on after my husband does this, and yet he gets a pass for causing this much emotional carnage? Quite a dichotomy.

7)  I know how  you feel. My grandmother died last month and it was such a shock.

Any comment that beings with “I know how you feel” is wrong. This is probably the #1 comment I’ve heard again and again. Suicide is “a death like no other.” It leaves a gashing wound, and to compare it to a disease process or even an accident is so very wrong.

8.) You need to get help.

This comment is frequently left at this website, and perhaps it’s because I have an online presence. Folks don’t ask if I’m getting help - they just say that I need help. It’s almost comical. Were it not for the help of trained professionals, prayer warriors, kind-hearted folks, generous strangers, angels in human form and dear friends, the author known as Rosemary would be no more.

9) Stop worrying about what other people are saying about you.

This is not realistic. Studies show that suicide survivors (as we’re known) have the highest chance of healing and restoration when we’re surrounded by supportive friends and family. I’ve heard multiple stories about suicide widows who are overtly or covertly blamed for their husband’s death (as I have been). It’s common for suicide widows to be shunned (or worse) by family and (former) friends, and/or openly criticized for not saving/rescuing the dead spouse. Some suicide widows have found that they need to leave the community because the criticism and gossip is so severe.

10) Have you seen this article on suicide prevention?

Every time I see/read/hear about suicide prevention, it’s a kidney punch that reminds me: Maybe there was something more I could have done. But Smart Rosemary™ knows this for certain: No one could have stopped Wayne Ringer. No one.

11) Maybe you should write a book about all of this.

It’s only wanna-be writers who say this. Writing requires total immersion. I want to get as far away as possible from this intense emotional pain. I am not going to be writing a book about “My 27 Months In Hell.”

12) You need to stay busy.

Well into my first year, I gave this one a try. I went to every function, party, soiree and gathering that I could find. It worked for about a month, and then I found that I was more miserable than ever. Out in the world, I was expected to wear The Mask and pretend that I was happy and well, and that act was exhausting and depleting. And I heard people grumble and whine about inane topics, and that’s something I now have zero tolerance for. Maybe it’s good widow advice; it’s lousy suicide widow advice.

13) Karma will settle everything in the end. Just  you watch.

For starters, most people don’t really understand this complicated Buddhist concept. Secondly, if Karma does settle scores, then what in the world did I ever do to deserve a punishment so severe as this? The answer: Karma is a human concept, and not a comforting one if you’ve had a severe trauma.

14) You really need to forgive your husband.

No, I really need to forgive myself.

Any phrase that starts with, “you really need to” is doomed to invoke a lot of misery.

15) I have PTSD from when my daughter screamed at me (or some other non-life-threatening event).

There are folks who tell me that they want to help me, when in fact, what they really want, is to have me listen to their story.  Taking Grandma off the ventilator at the hospital should not be compared to learning that your husband died a violent, ugly death at his own hand. I don’t doubt that it was awful telling the kids that Fido has gone to the Rainbow Bridge, but don’t compare it to my anguish. PTSD is not about suffering from anxiety; it’s a mental derangement so severe that it impacts the individual’s ability to function to society. Two weeks ago at Panera I was having lunch with a friend, when someone slammed a heavy exterior door next to my table. It startled me so badly that I jumped up and screamed (at the guy who was already gone), “WHAT THE F*** IS WRONG WITH YOU?”

I immediately left the restaurant.

I’m a gentle soul and a good Christian, but that loud bang triggered something deep in my brain that caused a visceral reaction.

16) You need to see the good side: It could have been worse. What if he’d killed you too?

I hear this one a lot. I can’t even find the words to explain why you should never say this to someone who’s dealing with trauma.

17)  God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.

This is not only cruel and thoughtless but an inherently flawed argument. As Rabbi Harold Kushner responds so perfectly: If that was the case, then I wish I was a weaker person, and then maybe God wouldn’t have placed this burden in my life. (Kushner wrote, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”) Kushner also reminds his readers that if it is God that decides how many weights to place on our spiritual shoulders, then sometimes, he gets the math wrong. Kushner says that he’s seen many people crack under extreme stress and emotional strain, but those stories don’t get wide-spread publication.

18) If you read this book, you’ll find your answers.

Please don’t send me a link to a book or lengthy article. First, I’d much rather have a six-word personal note than a link to anything, be it an article or a book. Secondly, I’m still having trouble concentrating. I tried to read a scholarly article last week, and had to give up. I couldn’t grasp the meaning in the words. I could read the words, but I couldn’t put them together to form a meaning. It was embarrassing but I had to ask a friend to read it and tell me what it said. This is not uncommon in trauma survivors.

19) And please do NOT regale me with a long story about how your spouse almost died last year, but God is good, and the whole church prayed all through the night, and he pulled through, but my oh my, what a scare that was!

And don’t be surprised when I respond by telling you that I am unwell and then dart for the exit. Yes, this happened to me at a social function. The person involved knew my “back story” and yet (apparently) had no idea how much pain this story inflicted. By my calculations, I was praying for my husband when the Bad Thing happened. I’ve made my peace with that, but it took two years.

I do believe in the goodness of God.  I embrace Rabbi Kushner’s view, that God helps us heal after bad things happen, and that’s the place where we can learn about the goodness of God (and His children).

20) Do NOT make harsh inquiries or statements about my poor memory.

As a therapist told me two years ago, trauma can make you forget your middle name. Several times, people have asked me, “Don’t you remember that we talked about this?” It’s pretty humiliating to admit that you don’t remember something, but perfectly normal. Be patient with trauma victims because they’re struggling to keep it all together and the things that are of lesser importance may get lost in the shuffle.

Thank goodness, my memory is coming back (another evidence of healing), but there are still gaps. Before The Bad Thing, I’d built a career on my “amazing memory” and “encyclopedic knowledge” of old houses. Who am I, if I’m not The Sears House Lady? These days, I rely less on that “amazing memory” and more on books and other resources.

21) Do not EVER make a statement that casts blame on the survivor.

Two years after The Bad Thing, my phone dinged with a text from a friend of Wayne’s. “That’s a surprise,” I thought at first. And then I read the text. It said: “Did Wayne kill himself because he thought you were having an affair?” That comment - which came out of the blue - caused a setback so severe that I had to make an emergency appointment with a doctor. It wasn’t true, and I think the sender knew it wasn’t true, but it was still devastating. It put me right back into the mode of, “Could I have stopped this?”

After his death, I came to suspect that Wayne had been reading my private journals, and within those journals, I talked about the fact that a woman friend had not been true to her husband, and that I couldn’t imagine such a thing, as I was so “out-of-my-mind in love with Wayne.” He knew I would never cheat on him. That’s a non-sequitur.

And what if a man kills himself after his partner is untrue? Should she feel blame then? Absolutely not. People divorce. People break up. There are 101 intelligent alternatives that are better than suicide.

There’s this, too: Anyone who survives the suicide of their intimate partner is already hanging onto the edge of an emotional cliff by their fingernails. Don’t walk up to that cliff and start stomping on their hand.

The fact that one of Wayne’s friends sent me this text is a clear example of how suicide is “a death like no other,” and the survivor - the victim - already being crushed under a load of guilt, becomes the subject of scorn and blame.

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That’s 21, not 10, but once I started I couldn’t stop. And I could write another dozen.

Now, what is the right thing to do?

Several months ago, I missed a lecture. Just didn’t show up. Problem was, I was the one giving the lecture. I was so filled with self-loathing that I couldn’t function for an entire 24-hour period. I was inconsolable. A kind-hearted friend said, “Your husband killed himself. Stop trying to get back to ‘The Old Rosemary’ and focus on how much progress you’ve made in the last two years.”

That was just what I needed to hear.

Praise is always welcome. Point out the progress; don’t talk about my shortcomings. I rehearse those shortcomings for hours and hours every night as I lay in the dark. Help me remember who I really am. Remind me of my accomplishments. And most of all, tell me that it’s okay to struggle and stumble.

If my mother were alive, if Tom Conran were alive, if those people that loved me unconditionally were still here, they’d tell me, “Rosie, you’re something special. You’re hurting so bad right now, but you’re also resilient. This horror is just a passage. It’s not a place where you’re going to live. It’s temporary. And you’re going to get through this.”

To conclude, The most important thing you can do for someone who’s hurting is this:

Show up. Listen. Don’t offer advice. Just listen.

If you must speak, say something like, “I want you to know that I love you, and I care about you.”

Or it can be reduced to three words: I love you.

If this person is mature (not a kid), and you find yourself offering them advice or suggestions, bite your tongue. You’re there to love. You’re not there to judge. You’re not there to fix. You’re there to show them that they’re not alone in the world.

Do NOT tell a grieving person, “Let me know if you need anything.” Instead, you might say, “I’d like to drop off a meal at your house once a week for a time. Which is better, Tuesday or Thursday night?”

When I moved into a rental house in Churchland, my new neighbor came over to meet me and brought me Rice Krispie treats. Now that was a happy moment!  I was pretty raw then, and told her that I was trying to pull myself together, and that my husband had killed himself. Tears came to her eyes. Her brother had killed himself a couple years prior. She said, “You’re a bit gaunt. Are you eating?”

I told her, “No. I’ve lost 40 pounds.”

She said, “I love to cook and I always make too much. I’ll bring you dinner every other night until you tell me to stop.”

She’s one of those angels walking this earth. I regained the lost weight and my health improved.

In the earliest days, a woman friend took me into her house. She worked late hours and would often come home too tired to stand up, but every night (for three months), she’d enter the guest bedroom (where I slept) and stand at the foot of the bed and pray for me.

Knowing that people I barely knew were praying for me was such a blessing, but when someone took me by the hand and prayed with me, it stirred my soul and I felt like the angels were right there, knitting my heart back together. It was a powerful experience.

Please remember these seven tips:

1) Show up.

2) Sit quietly and let them talk as long as they want to.

3) Tell them that they’re loved.

4) Offer praise and encouragement for any and all progress.

5) Remember, just knowing that someone cares is immensely comforting.

6) Pray FOR the person in pain, but better yet, pray WITH them. These prayers (and the love behind them) saved me.

7) And ask if Tuesday or Thursday night is better for them.

And why did I spend three days writing this? Studies show that suicide widows and those who have lost a very close loved one to suicide are 10-12 times MORE LIKELY to have suicidal ideation (studies vary in this number). If you have a friend who lost a spouse or a child to suicide, you should know that odds are good that they’re already contemplating ending their own life. The first six months are especially risky. Unconditional support and indefatigable love for the survivor will help them navigate those very treacherous rapids. At the very least, stop crucifying the survivors. We’re already drowning under the waves of guilt and grief.

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This is the best article I’ve seen on what happens to “The Widow” after a suicide.

If this blog has helped you, please post the link and share it on Facebook.

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Teddy

Teddy, for the most part, has proven to be a good grief counselor. She never says the wrong thing, and she always forgives me, which is pretty amazing. I could learn a lot from Teddy.

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The Eight-Cow Wife

Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used or reproduced without written permission.

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Compartmentalizing the Sacred Spaces

February 25th, 2018 Sears Homes 5 comments

As my friends know, I consider the Open Floor Plan to be a plague spot on American architecture, and it’s a plague that continues to spread.

The home I recently purchased in Suffolk has lots and lots of walls and a few doors, and I’m a big fan of walls and doors.

Nonetheless, one of my favorite rooms in the house - the den at the southeastern end of the house - had two cased openings but no doors.

The den has become my “nest” where I can curl up on the couch and watch TV or just look out the large sliding glass door into the peaceful back yard. In the morning, sunlight streams in through the three capacious windows. It’s the only room in the house that has windows on three of its four sides.

I wanted doors, but didn’t want to obstruct any of that wonderful light in the contiguous rooms (kitchen and dining room).

So I came up with a plan. Check out the pictures to see my unique idea.

To read one of my favorite blogs, click here.

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As Teddy demonstrates, there is no door between the kitchen and the den. Not good. I need doors and lots of them.

As Teddy demonstrates, there is no door between the kitchen and the den. Not good. I need doors and lots of them. My "nest" can be seen in the background. And yes, that's an enormous stuffed horse.

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And when I curl up on my nest (on the couch in the den), I can see the kitchen. Not good. The kitchen should not be seen or heard. I dont want to think about the kitchen. Ever.

And when I curl up on my nest (on the couch in the den), I can see the kitchen. Not good. The kitchen should not be seen or heard. I don't want to think about the kitchen. Ever.

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So I had an idea...and it started with these doors.

So I had an idea...and it started with these doors. These are bifold doors, ordered from Lowes Hardware. I purchased two sets of these doors (on sale) 24" wide, so that the two sets would match my 48" cased opening.

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FFF

They arrived expeditiously and in fine shape. I removed the hinges and patched the small holes left behind. The hinges were surface mount (not mortised), so it was easy to patch the screw holes.

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Bypass

I also purchased this "bypass closet door track kit." It's designed for closet doors, and the "bypass" allows for two doors to be on the same track. According to the weight specs, it was more than sturdy enough to support my discombobulated French Doors.

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Next, I installed a double bypass track in the top of the doorway. This is a track that lets two doors slide past each other.

Next, I installed the track in the doorway. It was one inch too long and had to be cut down. Installation was very simple and fast. I didn't use the screws that came with the kit, but opted for something more substantial.

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Next, I affixed the corresponding rollers to the top of these wooden french doors.

Next, I affixed the corresponding rollers to the top of these wooden doors.

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With the track in place, installing the doors was quite simple.

With the track in place, installing the doors was quite simple.

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And they worked so well!

And they worked so well!

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And looked so pretty!

And looked so pretty!

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After a brief moment of admiration, I pulled them down for painting.

After a brief moment of admiration, I pulled them down for painting. The doors were of excellent quality, and the glass was covered with plastic to protect the glass during painting. I applied one coat of primer and two coats of paint. This was the most time-consuming process of all. These doors sat in my den (on sawhorses, atop plastic) for quite some time.

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After

After the painting was done, they were reinstalled (which took a few seconds). Even with the paint slopped over the edges, they looked quite attractive.

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And once completed, it looked fantastic.

And once completed, it looked fantastic.

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They can be opened partially.

They look good partially shut...

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Or fully

Or shut all the way.

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ff

Even the dinette set (in the kitchen) is happier.

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Before and After photos (actually, theyre in the wrong order).

"Before and After" photos. Actually, they're in the wrong order. The "after photo" is on the left. Oops.

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Best of all, I can sit on my couch and not see the kitchen very well!

Best of all, I can sit on my couch and not see the kitchen! Mission accomplished.

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Id thought about installing something like this, but it was too big and bulky and didnt fit the style of the house. Plus, I didnt have the wall space.

Originally, I'd thought about installing something like this, but it was too big and bulky and didn't fit the style of the house. Plus, I didn't have the wall space. And it would cut off the light from the other rooms. Not good.

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With these French Doors, the sunlight still fills the house!

With these French Doors, the sunlight still fills the house! Total cost was $280 for the two sets of bifold doors (seen above) and about $35 for the hardware.

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To read one of my favorite blogs, click here.

Read more about the open floor plan (and why it’s so evil) here.

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Love, Prayers and “Standard Bilt” Sears Homes

January 23rd, 2018 Sears Homes 9 comments

Yesterday started out tough but ended up on a lovely note. There were several decisions to make, hard things to do, and then, after breakfast, I discovered a jagged edge on my bottom front tooth. It had been feeling a little odd for about a month, but I’d ignored it.

Upon closer examination, I discovered it was a chipped tooth, with a vertical crack to the gumline. The panic over a big dental mess hit me hard. Thankfully, my wonderful dentist Dr. Weisberg was able to see me yesterday afternoon. After x-rays and an examination, he determined that the “crack” was a typical dental craze line. I did have a chipped tooth, but that was easily repaired.

The best guess was that it was caused by the car accident on December 15th, when an off-duty cop rear-ended me, as I sat at a light. (Although the cop told the officer on the scene that he was doing “about 3 mph,” damage to my Camry showed that it was more than 15 mph.)

Speaking of cars…

Last night, I was looking at used cars and found one that was very pretty. The stress of making a decision brought a fast return of the upset stomach, and I got fogged in by the angst.

I contacted two very dear friends to seek out their advice, and called my daughter. All three responded in seconds, offering sagacious counsel and wise insights. They patiently and lovingly explained that this wasn’t the car (or the deal) for me. Back at home, as I drifted off to sleep, I felt grateful that I had such loving and clear-minded friends, willing to drop everything and help me.

When I awakened in the wee hours, unable to sleep, I went to my website and re-read some of the beautiful comments left there by “online friends.” These are people that I’ve never met, and yet they have so much love in their heart that they’re willing to pray for a stranger’s return to health and wholeness. That is a reason for much gratitude.

This has become a habit: When I can not sleep, I revisit the “comments” section of my blog, and read each and every one, again and again. These comments mean a lot to me.

More than anything, the purpose of today’s post is to thank each and every kind soul that has helped me through the hard days. Every comment here brings me much joy, and assuages the nagging fear that I’m alone.

In 2002, this website was launched to share the good news and joy of Sears Homes. Sixteen years later, it has become a place where I am the recipient of countless blessings.

Thank you for keeping me here. And thank you for drawing that circle of love and taking me in.

PS. If you’d like to buy a slightly used Camry, please leave a comment! ;)

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While

The above is a comment written by Emily about three months ago (at a blog titled "Thank you for your prayers."). "While your husband's behavior shocked you, it'd didn't surprise our Savior..." That line touched my heart.

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The

Sears offered "Honor Bilt" and "Standard Bilt." The Hudson was a "Standard Bilt" Sears house. The Standard Bilt houses were never really intended to be permanent houses. They were quite modest. Framing members were spaced at 24" and doors and windows did not have double headers. There was no exterior sheathing, bur just the clapboard (1925 catalog).

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As you can see from this description, its a little house.

As you can see from this image, it's a simple little house.

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House

There were two floorplans. The "bigger" house had the second windows in the living room.

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The 2nd floor plan is a wee bit bigger than the first, and it has the double window in the living room.

The 2nd floor plan is a wee bit bigger than the first, and it has the double window in the living room. Still, this "larger model" is under 600 square feet.

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And how in the world do you find a simple little house like this?

And how in the world do you find a simple little house like this? You sure can't do it by a windshield survey. I found this house via mortgage records. It's a Sears "Hudson."

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To learn more about Standard Bilt Sears Homes, click here. Or, just search for the terms “Angry Moose.”

To read the original blog where Emily left her comment, click here.

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Two Months Since My Last Blog…

December 27th, 2017 Sears Homes 13 comments

This Christmas, my second as a widow, was a vast improvement over my first (last year). This year, my three daughters made the long trek to my recently acquired home in Suffolk, Virginia and we had a lovely time together on Christmas morning.

This morning (Wednesday), everyone went back home and that was tough. For three glorious days, I was not the widow of a man who took his own life, but a mother to three beautiful girls, and with their good energy and happy enthusiasm, we created some lovely new memories.

And yet, this morning, the tears returned. Two of the girls (and their significant others) live more than 600 miles away. I miss them so very much, and yet they’re in their 30s. I raised them to be independent, strong-willed, self-supporting, capable adults, ready and able to “fly the coop.”

They’re back home now, far away, and I realize that I need a strong distraction for the hours and the days and the weeks and the months.

I’m wondering if it’s time for me to move into the next phase, which is finding a job or volunteer work. My writing days are behind me. Right now, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever write another book. I never did like writing. It’s misery and it’s solitude and as far as income goes, it’s barely more than a hobby. The Penniman book (which represented six years of research) is being polished and prepared for a second printing.

What’s a former writer and historian to do?

I just don’t know.

I do know that sitting in my lovely house and sobbing every morning and every evening isn’t a good plan.

As always, please keep me in your prayers and please leave a comment below.

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For Christmas, my three daughters wrote "love notes" on bits of paper and put them in this vintage cookie tin. It was one of the loveliest and most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. The tin is just like a tin from my childhood home.

For Christmas, my three daughters wrote "love notes" on bits of paper and put them in this vintage cookie tin. It was one of the loveliest and most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. The tin is just like a tin from my childhood home. If I remember correctly, my mother purchased a tin much like this in the 1960s, and she would "bake" that small glass plug in the oven for 10-15 minutes. The idea was that those absorbent crystals would keep things crisp.

Please Leave a Comment Below…

August 11th, 2017 Sears Homes 48 comments

There’s something known as “second-year grief” and experts suspect it’s occasioned by the fact that in the first year following a sudden and traumatic death, the mind is in shock. By the second year, the protective layer of shock is mostly gone, and what’s left is the ugly, raw reality.

I’m not sure what the issue is, but despite a rigorous daily exercise routine, healthy eating, gratitude lists, daily “to do” lists, and other good habits, I’m struggling to keep my head above the massive waves of despair, regret and hopelessness that keep washing over me.

Every morning, one of the first things I do is to check this website for new comments. When someone leaves a comment, it’s a lovely reminder that I am still alive, and that someone somewhere is still thinking about me. And when someone says that they’re praying for me, that lifts my spirits more than I can easily express.

I return to the “well-commented” blogs (especially the recent ones) and read through every word of every comment again and again.

So if you’re one of the 1,500+ daily readers at this blog, I’d be ever so grateful if you’d take a moment and please leave a comment below.

Thank you so very much.

Read through some of my favorite comments here.

Interested in learning more about Penniman? Click here.

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When I drove to New Martinsville, WV last week, my Garmin took me through Ohio (and why, I do not know). Whilst there, I saw this perfect Avondale in Matamora (on Grandview Street) and snapped a picture.

When I drove to New Martinsville, WV last week, my Garmin took me through Ohio (and why, I do not know). Whilst there, I saw this perfect Avondale in Matamora (on Grandview Street) and snapped a picture.

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Heres an Avondale, from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Here's an Avondale, from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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Every comment is so precious to me. This comment made me laugh out loud and also touched me to tears.

Every comment is so precious to me, and I cherish every word and the love behind the words. This comment made me laugh out loud and also touched me to tears. And I do love that song.

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To read the full blog that Susan is referencing, click here.

Read through some of my favorite comments here.

Interested in learning more about Penniman? Click here.

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Housing Rosemary, Part II

July 11th, 2017 Sears Homes 8 comments

In re-starting a new life at the age of 58, one of my greatest challenges is (now) decision-making. Even small decisions are very difficult, and I’m finding that larger decisions are almost paralyzing.

My nearest and dearest friends tell me that I’ve made much progress in the last few months, and I’m so grateful for every encouraging word, but when it comes to hard choices, I don’t do very well.

Last night, I looked at a house that was so appealing for so many reasons. It’s brand-new on the market and will probably sell quickly, so I need to decide soon. And yet, after seeing the house, the old familiar chest pains returned, as did the sleepless night and morning panic attack.

The house has so many good features, such as a NON-OPEN floor plan. It has rooms and walls - a big plus. It has a functional kitchen with white appliances - another big plus. I loathe stainless steel. The roof is less than five years old, so it should last the rest of my life. That’s good.

Inside, the 29-year-old home has popcorn ceilings in every room (ick), an unusually small master bedroom (drat), no sunporch (yikes) and very few windows (see pictures). I’m a solar-powered soul, and I live on light.

The mechanical systems (plumbing, electrical) are first class, but the HVAC is 15+ years old and inefficient.

The best part - the lot. It’s just the right size, delightfully landscaped and the rear is fully fenced. And - it has a massive 1,008-square-foot garage in the back corner. With an epoxy floor. And oversized doors. And a second-floor. That garage makes me swoon, and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s my inner-hoarder coming out. Maybe it’s 10 months of being stuffed inside a small rental, with all my worldly possessions in storage.

And perhaps the other “best part” is the neighborhood. It’s a lovely neighborhood and all the lots are at least 125-feet wide. It’s not in the wilderness, and yet everyone has their space.

The last bad thing - it was built in 1988, during  a housing boom in this area. It was not custom built, and I see some evidences of it being economically constructed.

But do I need a house that will last 100 years? No. I need a house that will last 20 years. After that, I’m leaving for assisted living or heaven (undecided as of yet).

So that’s the story. I welcome opinions, as I try to navigate this difficult decision.

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The best part is the lot. Its .7 acres - big enough for privacy but not overwhelming. And its all fenced and ready for me and Teddy to move right in.

The best feature of this house is the lot. It's .7 acres - big enough for privacy but not overwhelming, and well landscaped. And it's all fenced and ready for me and Teddy to move right in, and start the next chapter of our life.

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House

There's a 1-1/2 car attached garage, but there's a 1000+ square-foot garage in the back yard. The house has excellent curb appeal, and the lawn has been beautifully maintained.

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As you can see from the rear, it just doesnt have many windows.

As you can see from the rear, it just doesn't have many windows. There are only two windows on the side of the house, and only one on the second-floor rear. And yet, it does have a new roof...and that's how these internal conversations go - back and forth.

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You can read one of my most popular blogs here.

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Only Two More Weeks: “Penniman: Virginia’s Own Ghost City.”

June 8th, 2017 Sears Homes 21 comments

In about two weeks, the long-awaited book on Penniman will be arriving at my home. That’s the very good news.

As dear friends and faithful readers know, there’s a lot more to this story. If you’re interested in reading the back story, continue on.  If you’re here to read about the Sears Homes, click here.

If you’d like to pre-order a copy of “Penniman, Virginia’s Own Ghost City,” click on the Paypal button at the bottom of the page. This first printing will be only 200 copies, each of which will be signed by the author.*

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Almost 14 months ago, on April 10, 2016, my husband and I met with the editor that I’d hired to do the final edit on my manuscript on Penniman. It was a Sunday afternoon. The editor was confident that the completed manuscript would be returned to me in about two weeks. After that, it wouldn’t take long to incorporate the changes and send the book off for printing.

Five years of research and study and digging and effort was finally coming to a close. The book was finished. During those long days, when completing this comprehensive tome looked impossible, I’d close my eyes and imagine the finished product resting in my hands. In my vivid imagination, I’d caress its beautiful cover, pull it open to a center page and listen to the soft sibilant sound of the book’s spine being unfurled for the very first time. Next, I’d plunge my face into its bright-white pages and take in the aroma of that fresh-off-the-press smell.

There were many times that I got so overwhelmed by the enormity of the research that I started to think that this was an impossible task.

In August 2015, I kicked it into high gear and boldly announced to my husband that I was going to sequester myself and finish this book. “This means,” I told him, “that I won’t be much company for a time. I’ll be working morning, noon and night, literally, until this is done.”

“You shouldn’t work so hard,” he said half-heartedly. At the time, I assumed the “half-hearted” part was due to his knowing that once I set my mind on something, it was done and done.

I was wrong.

On April 11th, my husband came home from work and after I gave him a big hug, I posed him in front of all the research materials, filed, organized and boxed up, ready for storage.

“Look erudite,” I told him with a big smile, as I stroked his silver hair and kissed his cheek. He struck a delightful pose and I took many pictures of my beloved, and posted the best one on Facebook.

Looking “erudite” was no problem for him. He had an IQ well north of 160, and a flawless eidectic memory. I was in awe of his intellectual prowess. As a person with a natural love of learning, I thoroughly enjoyed just listening to him talk.

And he knew it.

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Through the years, Wayne had been an integral part of the Penniman book. He’d been the preliminary editor on every bit of it, and many an evening we spent an hour or two reviewing a page or a chapter, discussing phrasing, word choices, and historical accuracy. He read every chapter and I was excited to read his edits and commentary. It was just one more place where his shockingly high IQ shined through.

“You’re a ten-talent man,” I’d frequently tell him (a reference to Matthew 25). “You’re brilliant, gifted, discerning, charming and beautiful. God has blessed you with so many gifts and abilities.”

Wayne always responded the same: “It’s good that you think that.”

Wayne’s “fingerprints” were all over that book. And unfortunately, because of that, every paragraph, every sentence and every word within its pages would become a painful memory of my husband.

My husband. The man with whom I intended to grow old. The man to whom I entrusted my extremely sensitive and delicate heart.

On April 18th, 2016, one week after he “looked erudite,” Chief Deputy City Attorney Wayne Ringer left City Hall and ended his life. If I live to be 112, my life will always be divided into two compartments: Before April 18th and After April 18th. The old Rosemary died that day, eviscerated by the holocaust of a spousal suicide. The new Rosemary is now, and will be for some time, a work in progress, but is still largely an emerging, amorphous form, and most notably, chronically dehydrated. I’ve yet to experience a single 24-hour period without soul-wracking crying jags.

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I don’t remember the date, but a few days after Wayne’s suicide, the editor contacted me to let me know that the manuscript was completed. In those early days, I was in deep shock. It was ugly and hellish. I don’t remember details, but I know that the blue notebook - which contained the editor’s marked-up copy - ended up in the trunk of my Camry and remained there for many months.

For at least five months, I lived out of my car and spent the nights at a friend’s house about an hour from Norfolk. Each morning, I’d drive back to my home in Norfolk, pick up clean clothes, and then run around during the day, visiting doctors, lawyers, bankers, or friends, trying to sort out the surfeit of legal, financial, medical and mental problems that I now faced.

I kept granola bars, Boost (liquid supplement), Funyuns and Gatorade in the trunk, along with a Bible, some inspirational books and spare clothes, together with a manila envelope which contained the important papers that I needed constantly. During this time, I was losing weight and suffered from fainting spells. If I stood up too fast, I’d sink right back down.

When I would open that trunk, the very sight of the word Penniman made me nauseous. I kept hoping that repeated exposure would make it easier. It didn’t. In time, I covered the notebook with a beige towel and buried it in a box in the hinterlands of the trunk.

Every few weeks, I’d carry the notebook into my friend’s house (in a canvas bag) and try to read through the edits. Still, I couldn’t do it. Back into the trunk went that tired blue notebook.

In January 2017, a caring friend invited me to join him at dinner. He asked many questions about the book. By now, I had given up on the manuscript and decided it was a dead project. My mental health was more valuable than a book on regional history. As far as I was concerned, the manuscript died with Wayne. I just hadn’t buried it yet. I made a plan to donate all the research materials and the unfinished manuscript to a local library.

I knew what my friend was doing. He was trying to re-invigorate me, and re-ignite the passion I’d once felt for this topic. But now, I had no passion for anything in any direction. I was the walking dead, slogging through the moments and the days, eating enough to stay alive and not much more. Two simple thoughts dominated my waking hours, which were, “Why did Wayne do this?” and secondly, “Why does everyone keep trying to save me?”

That dinner with my friend was such a blessing. He showed me “no little kindness” and when I looked in his eyes, I saw love looking back at me. I was loved. Maybe I really was lovable. Maybe I was worthy of love. Maybe my husband’s last text - blaming me for his death - wasn’t a burden that I should carry for the rest of my life.

Maybe.

Even the people at the periphery of my life were showering me with love. Today, the very memory of that love stirs my soul and lifts my spirits.

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A few weeks after Wayne’s suicide, my eldest daughter gave me a shake and told me, through tears, “Mom, the only way we’re going to survive this hell is by focusing on light and love. This darkness is so horrid and the truth is so awful that this trauma could easily destroy us. I need you to stick around and I need you to stay focused on the good. Promise me you’ll focus on light and love. Promise me.”

I promised my little girl that I’d try.

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That night, the dinner with my friend, I felt the love. It was as though I was being given a mental hug, and it fed my hungry soul. The love in his heart and the warmth in his eyes was a laser-beam of light that pierced the heavy blanket of psyche ache that had engulfed me. His kind words and the love behind them reached right into my heart. I felt something stir inside of me. The next day, I pulled the blue notebook out of the trunk and plopped it down on the desk beside my computer. I told myself, “Just do one page. Just one page. And if you can’t do one page, do one paragraph. And if that’s too much, just do one sentence.”

Opening the book, the dizziness and nausea returned. I paused, closed my eyes and said the simplest of prayers. I kept my eyes closed for a couple minutes. I decided that maybe one sentence would be plenty for the first day. And then I did that first sentence. And then another and another, and then one page was finished but then I hit a bad bump, and an intense memory of a discussion with Wayne washed over me and dragged me down under the waves. I slapped the book shut, closed out the computer screen and flopped on the nearby couch to commence the daily crying jag.

The next day, I made it to the end of the first chapter. When the tears came, I took a deep breath and said, “One more page. Just do one more page.”

And so it went, day after day. Getting through those pages was an act of divine grace and sheer willpower.

In about three weeks, I had incorporated all of the editor’s corrections. After that, three friends gave of their time and brilliance to help me finish up all the “dog work” of incorporating photographs, creating captions, and putting it all together. Next, I had to read the manuscript from beginning to end.

Again, many tears flowed. I was so weary.

That was several weeks ago.

Now, June 8, 2017, we’re drawing mighty close to the finish line. As of June 2nd, the Penniman manuscript is in production, 14 months later than expected. When I chastise myself for the delays, I remember, it’s a miracle of grace that this book will even see the light of day. It may not be exactly how I wanted it to be, but it is finished.

In about 10 days, the “new baby” will be born. And as fast as freight can move those boxes, they’ll come to my home in Southeastern Virginia. At some point in the not-too-distant future, I’ll have the final product resting in my hands, where I’ll caress its beautiful cover, pull it open to a center page and listen to the soft sibilant sound of the book’s spine being unfurled for the very first time. Next, I’ll plunge my face into its bright-white pages and take in the aroma of that fresh-off-the-press smell.

And then, I’ll put it back in the box, and turn the box label side to the wall, so I don’t have to see the word “Penniman,” and hope and pray that one day, the pain associated with that lovely name will ebb a bit, and that this unknown story will garner much interest, and will bring a blessing to every reader and to the community and to the country.

As my friend George said, “Sometimes the biggest ugliest dogs are guarding the loveliest of treasures.”

In other words, sometimes the greatest blessings are lurking right behind the greatest sufferings.

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In 1875, 54-year-old Mary B. Eddy wrote her seminal work (”Science and Health”), a book that was prefatory to creating the first church in America founded by a woman. In 1908, a congregant lovingly returned one of those early books to Eddy. According to Eddy’s secretary, Eddy carefully took the small book, examined it, and handed it back to the secretary and said, “Put it away, Mr. Dickey. No one will ever know what it cost me to write that book.”

Every book comes at a cost to its author, but sometimes the cost far exceeds what the author was intending to pay.

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Less than nine months before his death, Wayne and I had picked out a “dream appliance” - a fancy side-by-side refrigerator with all manner of bells and whistles. It was a fine thing. We’d spent the prior three years planning this purchase. There was much discussion about options and colors and features and prices. And then one day, we went to Sears and made our selection. It was a happy day.

“How is it,” I thought to myself recently, “that we spent three years discussing a major appliance purchase, and yet he never said one word about his final exit plan? How could he think it was okay to destroy our marriage and destroy his wife and destroy our family with a nuclear detonation, without any discussion? How could my husband, an officer of the court and brilliant communicator, take a gun and murder my best friend without even a clue being proffered?”

It is a question that still plagues me, and yet it’s an intractable question. Like so many other aspects of this nightmare, the answer died with him.

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Several months before his death, the veneer of civility began to peel away from his persona (which is Latin for “mask”). While struggling to write a single paragraph explaining the composition of a WW1 155-mm artillery shell, I frequently turned to him for help. It’s hard to believe that any historian at any college or museum could possibly know more of early 20th century military history, munitions and armaments than he did. His eidectic memory and brilliance shown in this arena, too.

After my 9th attempt to write a simple explanation of this shell, I handed him the freshly printed text and said, “Does this sound right to you?”

With his eyes glancing down through his bifocals, he read the paper. He shook his head in disgust as he thrust the papers back at me.

“What kind of dumb-ass doesn’t understand the difference between a shell-casing and a cartridge? How many times must I explain this to you? I don’t have any interest in writing this book for you.”

And with that, he stomped out of the room.

More than a year before his death, we sat at breakfast and chattered away as we did every morning. He mentioned a female colleague, and went on and on about his great admiration for her intellect and mental acuity.

“Wayne, I think I’m just as intelligent as she is, and perhaps even a smidge more.”

He replied, “You write these little history books. She’s a lawyer with seven years of schooling. It’s okay though. You’re smart when it comes to Sears Homes.”

It was a slice that cut me to the marrow. Throughout our marriage, he’d never been able to tell me that I was beautiful. And now he couldn’t even offer reassurances as to his pride in my intelligence.

In January 2016, after proofreading my preface he said, “This isn’t a good preface. It’s more like a first chapter.” He then urged me to try again. I brought him a pen and paper and said, “You just read my very best effort and that was the result of 12 months of writing. I’ve given it all I can. Why don’t you write a preface for me?”

Surprisingly, he agreed and for the next 60 minutes, he sat at the dining room table and wrote a four-page preface. He summoned me when he had finished and said, “This is a good preface for the book. It will explain your background.”

Eagerly, I sat down to read his writing. Below is a snippet.

I know relatively little about World War One. I’ve seen “The Blue Max,” part of “Gallipoli,” and part of “Sergeant York.” I’ve never read “All Quiet on the Western Front” or seen the movie, but I know they’re out there. I’ve seen “Downton Abbey” and its treatment of Matthew, Thomas, William and Archie. Efficient 20th century warfare required artillery, great guns that would hurl great shells great distances, and would explode doing great damage…

After reading this, I looked at him and said, “Are you serious?”

He sternly replied, “Yes, quite. You need to explain to the reader that you have no academic background or specific expertise.”

“You’re right, Wayne. I have no academic background or specific expertise, but I’d be willing to make a bet that I know more about early 20th century munitions than 99.9% of the people in the United States. In the last five years, I’ve now studied more than 25 books on the munitions of World War One, and that doesn’t include the many other World War One books on more generalized topics. And I think we’re going to have some trouble finding a vet from The Great War that can offer ’specific expertise.’”

The conversation did not end well. I retreated to my room and wept. I loved him dearly, but I was beginning to wonder if he was preparing to leave me. Something was off, and at the time, I had no idea what was going on.

About six months after Wayne’s death, I sat down and read through a dream journal that I had kept for several years. In the 12 months before his death, I had a recurring dream that he died suddenly, and I had to move out of my beautiful home into a depressing rental home. I’d often awaken from that dream with tears still flowing. More than once, after this recurring dream, I’d awaken Wayne and wrap my arms around him and say, “Wayne, I had this horrible dream that you died. It was terrifying. I don’t think I can live without you.”

He would hug me back and say flatly, “I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Promise me?” I’d say, still feeling very emotional.

“Yes, I promise.”

We had this conversation several times. The last time was less than a week before his death.

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In the last seven years, two of my dearest friends collapsed and died in the blink of an eye. In 2001, my mother passed suddenly as well. Every morning, as Wayne left for work, I gave him a proper hug. I’d hold him for at least a minute, and during that time, I asked God and His angels to surround him with love, to keep watch over him, bless him, and protect him, and keep him well, strong and healthy. And then I’d visualize the very angels of heaven surrounding Wayne in every action and in every moment. I’d always close with, “God, please bring him back home to me, safe and sound, at the end of this day.” Nine hours later, when I saw his green truck pull into the driveway in the evening, I’d always whisper, “Thank you, God.”

For reasons that should be obvious, his suicide has been a very hard slap down of my once-strong faith. It’s hard to imagine that any 63-year-old man was the recipient of more prayers than Wayne, and yet, it ended so horribly.

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When I sequestered myself in August 2015 to finish the Penniman book, I had no idea that those were to be the last months of my husband’s life. “Come snuggle with me,” he’d often say as the sun set in the western sky, and most nights (thank God), I’d reply, “Okay, give me three minutes to finish up a paragraph,” and then I’d save my work, arise from the chair and spend time with him. Thank God for that.

But now that’s another painful memory. The Penniman manuscript took up much space in my life and my mind and my heart. I convinced myself that telling the story of the “Canaries” at Penniman was God’s will for me, a utilization of my best talents, life experiences and passion for telling a story forgotten by the rest of the world. But was that correct? It doesn’t feel like it today. Perhaps in a few years or decades, the reception and success of this book will help me sort it out.

I do know that - if I let it in - this devotion of my energies to a book in the last months of his life, could be another source of crushing guilt. Those were the last breakfasts, lunches and dinners I’d ever have with Wayne, and I spent many of them buried in a manuscript.

“You need to turn off that computer and come pay attention to me,” he’d say frequently. Was that one of the clues that I missed? Looking back, how did I miss that? And more important, how do I forgive myself now?

And there was the more haunting comment - almost a mantra in those last weeks: “I’m old, and I’m going to be dead one day and you’re going to regret spending so much time on a book.”

I’d grab him and say, “Please don’t say such things. Not a day goes by that I don’t pray my best prayers for you. You are the beloved of God, and you’re going to live a very long time.”

“You’ll find someone else,” he’d say, as though he hadn’t heard a word. “You won’t be alone for long. Someone will snatch you up.”

“Wayne, I don’t want anyone else. You’re the love of my life. Please - don’t say such things. We’re going to grow old together.”

If I permitted it, the review and rehearsal of those excruciating conversations could lead me to insanity.

When I find myself circling that mountain again, I use every iota of willpower to “focus on the light and love.” It’s an act of great will, and I tell myself, “It only takes 12 repetitions to form a habit. Focus on good thoughts. Stop thinking about the horror of this.”

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I’m so very grateful that the Penniman book is done. If it had been left wholly to me, the unfinished manuscript would have been tossed into a bin and carted off to a local history room at the closest library. But thanks to so many dear friends, that did not happen. And today, I’m actually feeling a little joy and hope, looking forward to sharing the story of Penniman with the rest of the world.

The book that cost me so much may well be one more thing that helps to lift me out of the mire. I find myself earnestly hoping that this book is well received, and accomplishes its purpose of showcasing the amazing sacrifice of the men and women who gave so much to help win The Great War. Their story has been largely forgotten by time. This new book of mine will correct that gaping hole in local, state and national history, and for that, I’m truly grateful.

In the following weeks or months, I’ll go out into the world and give a few lectures and sell a few books. That will be very good for me. And focusing on future happy thoughts rather than depressing past events helps promote the healing of my shattered heart.

When my quivering hand struggles valiantly to write out a daily gratitude list, some iteration of this comment appears every day: “The Penniman book is done. Thanks be to God for that.”

It’s a good book, and it’s an important book, and hopefully, it will bring many blessings to its readers.

Please leave a comment below, or you can contact Rose directly at pennimanva@gmail.com

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To pre-order a copy of “Penniman, Virginia’s Own Ghost City,” click on the Paypal button below. Price is $29.95 plus $6.00 shipping. This first printing will be only 200 copies, each of which will be signed by the author.

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Did I miss something

This photo was taken seven days before his death. I've often studied this photo and wondered, did I miss something?

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Eeyes

I knew those eyes better than anyone, yet I had no inkling that he had a plan.

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Pennima

Front cover of the Penniman book.

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cover

The rear cover - just as it will appear.

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This Penniman worker has traversed a great distance to buy the new book.

This Penniman worker has traversed a great distance to buy the new book.

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To pre-order a copy of “Penniman, Virginia’s Own Ghost City,” click on the Paypal button below. Price is $29.95 plus $6.00 shipping. This first printing will be only 200 copies, each of which will be signed by the author.

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So Damn Tough…

May 11th, 2017 Sears Homes 6 comments

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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