After John died so suddenly and tragically in the fall of 2016, I was devastated. I suddenly had a whole new life to live, a full-time and very demanding social work job, and two shops that had been kept running on pure love – because neither was making enough to support itself. The first was Heritage Collectibles, our antiques and miscellaneous shop; the second was Heritage Books & Maps, which was in the little space right around in the corner, and was Johnny’s baby. He had barely gotten it set up the way he liked it when he died.
I tried to keep the two shops going but for a long time couldn’t stand to even go in the doors without breaking down. We had never been open that many hours in any one week because John also was working a demanding full-time job, so the hours were fairly limited. And although we talked about one of us quitting our jobs so we could spend more time at the shop, it was always too big a leap. We figured we’d keep plugging away and eventually we’d be able to make it happen. It never got to that point.
I then had to explain over and over to customers who asked, that John had died, which left me in tears every single time. Perhaps worse, my eyes kept forcing me to look, again and again, at the last place where I saw my husband alive; at the very front of the shop.
Most people were sweet, gentle and shocked. Some were not… like the sign salesman who – ignoring my distress – pushed for me to talk signage with him, and when I blurted out that I had no money because my husband had just died, responded with “Well, I’m sorry about that, but it isn’t my fault”. (By the way, despite me complaining to his employer several times, I never received a response or an apology.)
Anyway, time has marched on. Today marks 19 months since John died.
I closed the main shop last fall. I closed John’s bookstore long before that.
Some of the inventory went to shops in Waterville and Scarborough but I couldn’t keep up with the travel, so have closed down my booths there. More inventory has gone to shops in Westbrook (The Den of Antiquities) and Oxford (The Undercover Antique Mall & Flea Market). The rest of the inventory is filling my house and garage, as well as a space in the rear of the same building where the shops were located. The inventory in the latter area is primarily books, but despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to keep it organized well enough to actually be “open for business”.
Dealing with organizing all of that inventory by myself has been compounded by my grief over John’s death, then my father’s just recently. I’ve also spent weeks at a time visiting my daughter and her family in Los Angeles; I’ve needed them, and I’ve needed to get away.
To keep my head above water, I worked a great deal of overtime at my social work job from January until March this year. Recently I started a part-time consulting gig as an office manager for a local professional, and I’m looking at adding another. Not surprisingly, I’ve been sick nearly constantly for the past year and a half. Despite posting anticipated hours for Saturdays, I’ve barely stepped foot inside the shop this year.
So… where does that leave Heritage Collectibles?
Ahhh… the one hundred thousand dollar question!
My goal is to eventually get back to having consistent weekend hours, with a space where people can come, sit and relax, have a cup of coffee, and browse some really great books. Having a bookstore was one of Johnny’s dreams, and I still want to honor that.
In the meantime, our non-book inventory can be found at the two shops mentioned above (we’re booth #56 in each place), and Heritage Collectibles itself can be open by appointment if you’re willing to dig through boxes to see what we have.
I hope to get this blog back up and running soon!
If you haven’t done so recently, hug those you love and tell them how much they are cherished. Life is far too short to miss a minute with them.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us for the past four years.
In memory of my beloved husband John K Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.
He loved our shops, especially the section we called Heritage Books, Maps & Ephemera – that was his baby.
He loved me like crazy, and oh how I loved him.
Follow our blog at https://warrior-project.org, in honor of my husband, and all others who have been lost to internal demons that in the end, overwhelmed them.
All of the profits after expenses from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps will go to help fund The (Grief) Warrior Project, a suicide prevention drop-in and counseling center in the process of being developed.
[Please Note: The (Grief) Warrior Project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1. Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.]