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From the eighteenth-century has emerged new friends, John and Abigail Adams, originally from a working farm at Braintree, Massachusetts. As husband and wife, their humanness enlivened my imagination: I was with them during their long relationship with its chilling hardships and lengthy separations.

Prior to this memorable experience, found in the pages of John Adams (2001), by the master writer, David McCullough, I only knew John and Abigail from history’s dust-covered pages about our country’s beginnings.

In McCullough’s perception, too few knew of Abigail’s emotional and spiritual and political support of John, of his intellectual brilliance and astute reading of character, his ease speaking in the political arena, his passion for truth, his sense of humor, his diplomatic work in Paris and the Hague that led to American independence—all these had been insufficiently addressed by Adams’s authors. So McCullough set to work. Years would pass.

Ruminating over John’s and Abigail’s letters, diaries, and journals, visiting all the places they had lived in America and Europe, and steeping his imagination with sensory impressions, McCullough allowed the story to take its present form in his unconscious, while ever critiquing what he wrote and checking his facts.

Readers of John Adams by David McCullough can’t help being touched by the immediacy of this piece of eighteenth-century history. As one of the Founding Fathers, McCullough honors Adams’s passion for American Independence, the form of government of the new country, and his role as one of the Founding Fathers.

Twelve days into the structural collapse and later demolition of the North and South Chaplain Condominium in Surfside, Florida, the stories still seep into psyche like fine silt, sated with grief. This is too much, we gripe. Not this!

Denial, however, cushions its full impact for those close by and elsewhere. True, death has always been around, especially in our violent, disease-ridden world. But the magnitude of the Surfside disaster mirrors the sights, sounds, and smells of a war zone, comparatively few have experienced. 

Only today did I remember a response to all of this—the psychologist Dr. Edith Fiore who presented highlights of twenty years of research in her study, The Unquiet Dead (1987). Numerous afflicted clients flocked to her counseling room, complaining of unusual symptoms, likened to loved ones, snatched by death, “like the thief in the night.” Under therapeutic hypnosis, Dr. Fiore relieved these disorders and helped the too-quickly-dead in their transition to the next life; their unpreparedness had led them to become earthbound and seek a host body.

Later today, I listened to Samuel Barber’s Adagio of Strings (1938) that peaked in a luminous interlude, the strings shimmering in light: it felt like spirits rejoicing in their ascension. God does have a way of working things out …

Let us remember the Champlain Tower victims, especially those stuck in transition, and their loved ones in prayer.

Weave together the gifted Dalmatian puppy with a gold earring, with the Collins’s children and their adventuresome single mom, and the children’s story, Gypsy – The Refugee (2021), emerges as a rollicking romp, often at breakneck speed. Adding to the momentum are family pets: the cockatoo Tina, the ferret Hardy, and the boa constrictor Frankie; even more pets appear later.

Besides these elements—more than sufficient to create the Collins’s world—others seamlessly evolve: international espionage, the CIA, and the Oval Office. Fast-paced dialogue exemplified by peppery interactions of the mom and children brings this about as they discover Gypsy’s special gift and its helpfulness to those in trouble.   

What’s endearing about this children’s story is its template for the author Patricia Coughlin’s own family, and Gypsy, their loved Dalmatian; it was drawn from their life in the 1980s and embellished by decades of reading spy novels. 

The surprise ending leaves smiles upon readers’ hearts. This is a story about really caring. This oldster found Gypsy – The Refugee fun to read.

Gypsy – The Refugee can be found on Amazon and B and N.

Available on Amazon

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