Not Dead Yet (part 1)

Margaret the Word Witch
3 min readMay 18


I admit, I dithered for a bit about whether or not to post this, to let you know what the heck happened to me for the last two years. Then I decided that, although there are few of you, I owe you an explanation.

Short version: I was mostly looking after my family while also trying to maintain my freelance editing.

My father retired from teaching after 50 years in academia right before the pandemic hit. Both he and my mother, who got their first college degrees in the sciences, refused to get vaccinated mostly because they were more afraid of the side effects than they were of catching COVID. Because they both had problems with mobility, it fell to me to take care of everyone’s laundry (the machines were in the basement) while my brother and sister-in-law took to their respective offices, trying to earn a living with writing and coding, respectively.

I also became de facto chauffeur for the parents — Mom because she sometimes overdid it with her physical therapist and needed me to drive; Dad because he gave up driving entirely. In fact, the only places he wanted to go outside the house were church on Sundays, certain restaurants for early Sunday dinner, and his doctors’ appointments. In between trying to read down, while also adding to, his TBR piles (yes, piles!), he was also mainlining shows from Fox News Channel. (What he would make of what’s happened to Tucker Carlson, I don’t want to imagine.)

One other thing to know about my father: he was a New Yorker born and bred. In fact, he was born at the Brooklyn Navy Yard when it still had a hospital for naval personnel and their families. Between TBR piles and the library he had been putting together for 50-odd years, he was adamant that he would never move.

Then, one day in August 2022, he finally conceded to J (Brother) and V (Sis-in-law) talking up moving to Texas for the previous year. There was just one condition: we were responsible for the books.

Now keep in mind, we’re talking about 50+ years’ worth of books. Some were so old their cover price was 35 cents; some so new they still had the sale sticker on the cover! In terms of volume, it took four of us (me, Mom, V, and our friend Allan) a month to properly pack the books in crates from our local CostCo and BJ’s, vaccuum-seal them (with an actual vacuum cleaner), and pack them in an 8x8x16-foot container from PODS. (This was after we gave away as many as we could to our regular charities, and a few new ones.)

What we didn’t realize at the time was the bigger the container, the lower the weight limit. This particular container topped out at 1500 pounds. We exceeded it by 500. Their machines couldn’t handle so much sheer weight of books. Bringing it back after the first attempt to take it away for storage, the PODS driver asked if we’d tried to ship car parts, or an entire car. He was shocked when I told him it was mostly our library.

So, we were forced to hold on to the pod while J wheeled and dealt with every moving company that handles interstate moves. He finally found one that would not only get us to Texas, but would also handle the books as well. (At this point, this wasn’t counting all the books that Dad had not only chosen to leave out of packing, but also the new ones that kept coming out, from Preston & Child to J.D. Robb to authors we’d never seen before but wanted to try.)

Then again, the movers were an entirely different enchilada.



Margaret the Word Witch

My pens are my wands. I have bookworm DNA, and an eye for detail, especially in fiction. Come, help me make magic.