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There are many spiritual elements to writing the book In Wake of a Following, and with them, comes fear. I worry that stirring up memories from the 1950s Virgin Mary sightings will release a measure of bad karma. My investigation is a lot like descending into a dank, unlit basement. Deep down, I’m troubled. With each bad thing that happens to my loved ones – my sister’s cancer, financial stress, a recent car crash – I wonder. Is my writing obsession a catalyst of doom?

I search for strength to complete my manuscript. Should I seek therapy? Hmmm, might be a good start. But I don’t. Should I visit a priest? I’m fairly certain they’d shy away from my topic; the Catholic Church denounced the Necedah visions back in 1950, 1955 and again in the early 1970s. Instead, I hang a rosary on my bed post, because my sister once said it would ward off “bad spirits” and then I write, write, write.

I work from home one day a week. And when I do, it’s not pretty. Yesterday was no exception with my coffee-stained yoga pants and faded “Reading is Sexy” tee-shirt. I was unprepared for visitors and jumped nearly a half mile when the doorbell rang. Worried I would be seen, I threw myself at the hard-wood floors and army crawled across the foyer to the window sill.

The blond woman, behind the filmy window sheers, was easily recognizable. She had made it her sole mission to convert me since 2005.

I knew she wouldn’t give up easy. I ducked low, and took shallow breaths – emitting no signs of life. I listened for clues of her departure. At one point, I feared a possible break in as the screen door opened and closed. Thankfully, after several tense moments, she dropped her literature and left.

Inside my front door was an April 2010 printing of the AWAKE pamphlet, dutifully distributed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Southern Minnesota. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that we are currently in the month of October, but even more alarming was the headliner: What Makes us Good or Evil?

Did Ms. Jehovah’s Witness somehow sense my quandary over this very question?

It is said that we are as only as good or evil as we choose to be. By writing this memoir, am I at risk? And, having these doubts, should I stop? Mostly, I question if my grandmother, Florence, is reaching out to me from beyond and whispering, “Don’t tell it, Jennifer, don’t tell it. Stay silent.”

Do you worry about sharing too much or exposing your family secrets?

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Comment by Gus Marsh on October 6, 2010 at 12:18pm
When putting my maternal family history book together, I had reservations regarding my seven cousins who drowned in 1965 in Itasca, Minnesota. After talking with other cousins and professional genealogist, I decided to add them to the book. Five years later, people are still thanking me for my research and adding the seven cousins who had passed away. I feel it makes the book more interesting to read and helps to discourage rumors.

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