… My garden would look like this — and have a full-time gardener to tend it!
People who read my books tell me the darndest things.
Perhaps instinctively knowing that I’ll never let them down — or simply because I’ve written a lot of personal stuff in my books — some readers write very personal responses in their letters and cards.
I feel privileged to read them. Every one.
Some weeks ago, one particular letter arrived. It accompanied a card, and was totally unexpected.
You see, it came from a prominent person, and the fact that he took the time to read my book — and write to me — was a huge surprise.
As you may know, I live with a strange thing called post traumatic stress disorder — one of the outcomes of a car accident of years ago. Only very recently have I written about it. When I did, I deliberately crafted my book, An Honest House, to provide a balance between the beauty, love and support that surrounds me in our old farmhouse, and the uncontrollable terror that always hovers, just out of sight.
I wanted book lovers to read my book, and I particularly wanted people who struggle with PTSD to read it. I wanted them to see, in an ‘up-close and personal’ way, how someone else lives — with and, in spite of, PTSD.
But here’s the problem: if you have it, reading about PTSD can be a death-defying thing — or so it feels. It wasn’t until after writing An Honest House that I finally read an article about PTSD – written by my own therapist, for the back of my own book! Even then, I only read it because I had to.
Shortly after my book went to print, I saw a news story about a prominent person who lives with PTSD. I wrote to commend him on revealing it in public, and also mentioned my upcoming book. He replied warmly — then warned that he’d most likely not read my book.
Imagine my surprise and pleasure, then, when I recently received a letter and card from him — just like that, out of the blue!
The letter was warm and revealing.
A beloved relative, he wrote, had recently died, and in his grief, he decided to read An Honest House. He found himself immersed in it.
I alternated between smiling and feeling choked up as I read. How moving to learn that he actually read the book and that it gave him comfort in a challenging time! And how gratifying to know that An Honest House will have a place of honour on his bookshelf.
As with the vast majority of my readers, I’ve never met this man in person, never even talked to him on the phone. I likely never will. Yet, in a way, we know each other.
Dedicated to everyone who writes to an author whose book they’ve enjoyed.
In 2014, I ran a series about Valerie Rowley, her husband Chris and their lovely home, garden and pets.
I was impressed by Valerie and Chris’ relationship – their obvious love and respect for each other.
I also liked this fact about them and their home: despite being an interior designer herself, Valerie didn’t renovate her home all at once. It took 20 years of patience and work. And though she created a beautiful home, it was above all, designed for comfort.
When Val’s illness worsened recently, my heart hurt for her and Chris and their family.
I remembered how she and Chris generously shared their home with my blogging community, and your warm responses to the series. So, knowing that Valerie loved flowers, I asked some of you to send a photo of your favourite flower for her. Many of you replied by Facebook or directly to my blog.
Valerie died yesterday. She was surrounded by Chris, her daughter and son and grandchildren, and other loved ones. We wish and pray for comfort and strength for them at this tough time.
Some people have a special touch for creating beauty — in one’s surroundings, and in one’s heart. Valerie touched people in this way. In addition to being a gifted and well-known designer, she was a very positive person who had a way of lighting up a room with her sense of humour, frank talk, unpretentious ways and that beautiful smile.
“Have I ever told you how much I love your spirit?” I wrote in what would be my last email exchange with her. “You draw people to you because there is a kind unpretentiousness about you, and an interest in others. I took to your presence like a duck to water … the warm look of welcome on your face, and the delight when you laugh, are lovely.”
I am thankful to have known you, dear Valerie.
Prayers for Chris, Tamsyn, Jon and all who love you.