Sunday, October 09, 2016

Innbox: Mrs. Brooks

Hey all! Tori here again... hope you haven't forgotten about me... Looks like none of pur regulars have had much to say lately (unsurprising since the life of an Inn person can get very... complicated!) I thought Noe would be a good time to share a letter from a fellow visitor that landed in my inbox a while back. Hope I can find the time to update you on my life soon too!

Lots of love,

Dear Trading Post Inn,

It has been 20 years since I visited the Inn and all these years later, I can hardly believe my luck. Of course at the time I didn't necessarily see it that way, but even at the time I viewed it as a boon of sorts. Like many who have been through this ringer, I lost lots but somehow managed to gain much more. Going to the Inn basically saved my life.

At the time, in the year 1995, I was in my early 40's, still a strapping man if I do say so, but with no prospects. I had spent several years in prison for something that I wished every day I could take back, but would have to live with the knowledge for the rest of my life. In a moment of desperation I held up a gas station... and in my haste to get away, I had forgotten to gas up my car. Funny when you read about it in a "dumb crooks" article, not so much when you live through it.

As much as I tried not to let my time behind bars change me, it was beyond my control. When I got out, I was divorced, jobless, scrounging, unsure what I was going to do from one moment to the next. It was hard to find work, let alone purpose in life. I considered re-offending just to get thrown back behind bars where I was more comfortable. Then my wanderings brought me to Maine, to the Trading Post Inn. And Mrs. Brooks came into my life - or should I say, I came into hers.

It was a shock to wake up one morning and find that I had been transformed into this kindly-looking 55-year-old Kindergarten teacher, but as I learned about my "new life" I felt invigorated. At the time, we didn't know - certainly nobody told me and there was no internet to provide information - that there was a way back. The original Kathleen Brooks had written with resignation that she intended to go back to teaching and hoped that the "new her" would do right by her. I did.

It was not an easy adjustment - I had no formal training as a teacher, no experience with kids. And I can guarantee that the PTA would have had something to say about it if they knew this sweet lady was secretly a male ex-con. But I grew into the role and did my best.

Kathleen's husband was a fine man, gentlemanly... given they had been together for over 30 years when I stepped into the role, I was surprised when he didn't notice me acting suspiciously. Although being a wife, and mother of three grown children, was not the life I envisioned for myself, it also helped provide that purpose I had desperately needed. Mr. Brooks became a warm presence in my life and the love I felt for him by the time he passed in 2007 was very real.

I retired not long afterward. I was determined not to become one of those old widows who can't take care of themselves and since then I have been travelling as much as I can. I've been to 13 countries, tried my hand at learning French and Mandarin, and met amazing people. I have managed to avoid becoming the cliché Bridge-playing old lady, although I do a bit of knitting for the grandkids too!

All this just to say... as I know my time is growing short... the Inn took my old life, my body, and many years from me... but that can never compare to the opportunities and experiences it replaced them all with. And I'm far from done.

My hope is that the rest of you find the good in your situation. I know it's there.

Kathleen Brooks II

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tori, would love to hear what you're up to!