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:

Kathrina
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
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