Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Tale of Two Books

By: Celia Yeary
"Her name was Katherine."

I am fortunate enough to have a group of long-time friends—girlfriends, if you want to call them that. But we’re not girls anymore. Our relationship goes all the way back to the early seventies, when most of us began teaching at a wonderful Christian/Military boarding school in Central Texas. Since then, we’ve added one friend here, one there, none of us ever knowing how this person became "one of us." Once every six weeks or so, we have A Gathering, as we call our meetings.

The conglomeration of women constitutes as many different personalities as the number of members. We're all different; yet, all have and hold one firm purpose in common—to love and support each other with undying friendship. An odd thing, though—none of us becomes angry with any other. Oh, yes, we discuss, argue, and laugh with great emotion and passion, but even so, our love always comes through. We share a thousand stories, maybe more, memories from years past that cause us to laugh, and sometimes, cry.

We lost one of our friends years ago, but we all remember her as if she sat right there with us, laughing in her robust way, until tears ran down her cheeks.
Her name was Katherine.

This woman acted as counselor and best friend to each of us, but as far as I know, she never asked for nor needed counsel from any of us—not even from other faculty members. I’ve often wondered about that. She had the blessed ability and God-given talent to make each person believe, “I am her best friend.” She was a listener, and when you talked, she gave her complete undivided attention.

A few years ago, our group held a gathering at a member’s home. We brought our covered dishes, presents for the two who had birthdays that month, recent photos of our grandchildren or latest trip, and stories to tell.

One member brought a box. At the end of the evening, she stood and placed it in the middle of the dining table. She told us it held some of Katherine’s knick-knacks that no family member wanted. Previously, they had selected treasured items and had taken them home. But here was a small cardboard box filled with a few assorted useless items. She invited us to choose something as a remembrance.

An item caught my eye. A small book, 4 by 6 inches, a green hardback covered in a linen-like material, the edges outlined in gold, an ivory cameo outlined in gold centered on the cover. The title:

Published by Scribner's
A Cameo Edition-1900
(1st Printing-1850)
(Inside, the presenter had written, to Katherine, with love-1989)

Goosebumps skittered over my arms. You see, I own an identical book, differing only in the title and text. I bought mine several years ago in an antique bookshop somewhere in Kentucky for two dollars.

My title: Reveries of a Bachelor
Published by Scribner's
A Cameo Edition-1893
(1st Printing-1863)

To a skeptic, this probably means nothing. But there’s more to the story. Katherine owned this book long before I bought mine, but she did not buy it. A mutual friend, a lovely lady who once owned an antique shop herself, gave it to her in 1989. I had never seen this book.

So, the three of us share the odd connection of the twin books and a wonderful, longtime friendship. Now, both books are in my care, holding a prominent place on a shelf, as if they symbolize the unbreakable bond of friendship.    

How odd, how mysterious that I walked into an antique book shop six states away, in a small town off the interstate where we pulled off to explore, and among the many antique stores, I chose the one which had this book for sale, among thousands of others, stuck in a dark corner, on a lower shelf where I barely saw it.

You tell me the meaning of this coincidence. And don’t burst my little bubble of happiness.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/celiayeary
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  1. Some say there's no such thing as coincidence and you were meant to have matching books. I try not to dismiss any possibility.

    A beautiful story, Celia. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This convinces me all the more there is a plan and a Power in our universe that most of us will never understand who sees that most thing happen just as they should. What a wonderful coincidence (or event).

  3. Celia, this is such a lovely story -- and you have such a way of telling stories like this that people just fall inside and are right there beside you.

    What a wonderful surprise the book must have been. I'll bet your friend smiled, too. :-)

  4. I had to sit in silence and take all this in when I finished reading your very touching story. Friendship sustains us through all the challenges life throws at us. It is such a special bond forged in love and commitment. I have no doubt something serendipitous was afoot and the hand of our creator was involved in it. A very touching story, Celia. I have friends from my days in coronary care that are so dear to me I can deeply relate to this story.

  5. Lovely story, Celia. I keep waiting for something like that to happen to me to re-connect me with the good friend I lost in 2013. Of course, he gave me a living reminder of himself in that he gave me his most treasured possessions, his dogs, one of which is still living. Think I'll go pet him now.

  6. John, I think your friend gave you a great gift--and the trust that he put in you to care for his pets says how much he cared about you. You really got to me with this story.

  7. Some things are "meant to be" and I don't think there are any coincidences. Treasure your finds.

  8. I think your friend wanted you to have her very special book. It's a connection that means everything to you. A wonderful story!

  9. LK--It was an odd coincidence. Thank you.

  10. Rebecca--I believe this, too. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  11. Kathleen Rice Adams--it was very strange. Also, none of the other friends going through the contents of that cardboard box wanted that book. They were choosing little vases, or cups and saucers, etc. I, too, was studying these pretty little items, but that book really stood out. I found the second book about three years later in the bookshop. Still, I wasn't sure it was a Cameo edition until I got home and looked at mine.

  12. Sarah--I knew you could relate. Your books have that metaphysical touch, that mysterious wondering that is so unique to you. I'm not surprised you could identify with the event. Thank you.

  13. JD--how touching that he entrusted you with his dogs. When you lose that last one, I can imagine how you might feel the loss all over again.

  14. Caroline--true. I do love "coincidences," which often are unexplainable. Thanks.

  15. Thank you, Vicki. I wondered why some of her family didn't want this book. It's an antique--both are.

  16. Another instance where life is stranger than fiction!

  17. Celia, I believe in coincidences, but I also strongly believe the powers to be sometimes make sure we meet certain people for a very specific reason. And it sounds like the two of you were indeed kindred spirits--maybe sisters in a past life. Who knows but, I like to think that now you have the book that meant something to her and your spirits are now entwined between the two books forever. Thank you for sharing such a lovely story. Friends are forever, that's for sure.

  18. Bev--thanks for your comments. Maybe, yes, we all have people in our lives that were "meant to be." I often wonder--what if I hadn't met so-and-so? Why did we meet? Friends, and yes a husband. How in the world did he choose me out of so many others I know would have married him.
    You made some lovely observations.

  19. Everything happens for a reason. I had a piano student once, an adult, who always said "There are no coincidences." I do tend to believe that coincidences, as we know them, have a reason--we might not know what it is at that moment, and we may never know--because they may mean something later on down the line that we don't live to see.

    What a great story this is! I'm sorry it took me so long to get over here. I love the idea that you and Katherine were 'connected' long before her death in this way. It's amazing.


  20. Lately, I've heard more than once "there are no coincidences." I'm thinking about that.
    She was a tall robust woman who never married. She was abandoned at age 13 by her mother--just left in a house alone, where she took care of herself for a long while. Finally, Child Protective
    Services learned about her, and a family took her in. This was in Chicago. She loved them dearly, but still preferred to be alone. Thus, she gathered up friends by the dozens, and as Dean of Girls at the Academy, she was counselor and advisor to many young women who were, in a way, abandoned at the Academy--boarding school.
    Life has many twists and turns.
    Thanks for taking time to visit.

  21. What is it that lives inside some people that gives them the strength, courage, and desire to rise above their tragedies to become leaders and help others, while others succumb to using their misfortune as an excuse to take revenge on others and become something other than what God intended? We may not be able to change the negative events in our lives, but we do have a choice about how we respond to them. What a remarkable woman your friend was. I have the greatest respect for her.