A Glimpse into the Life of Author MARGARET COWIE

Margaret Cowie1I was born into the military life. My father was a US Army soldier. We were poor, but didn’t know it. None of the “enlisted” military families had much when I was younger. We had the necessities. Anything further, above and beyond, like clothes or personal items, we worked and bought ourselves. For instance, my mother bought a general soap or shampoo for the entire house. If we didn’t like it, it was too bad. We could buy something else ourselves.

There were four children; she did the best she could. As a kid, of course, I certainly didn’t realize the weight on her shoulders. “Trendy” clothing was hard to come by on the military post, but could be purchased in the civilian world. Jobs I obtained outside of family chores were: babysitting, walking a dog, cleaning bathrooms at a hospital, throwing dances and charging admission and selling snacks. When we lived in Garmisch, Germany there was only one radio show in English – “Wolf-man Jack” hosting the American Top Forty songs. I listened intently each week. I loved music and purchased vinyl record albums and used them to hold the dances. There wasn’t any entertainment in the area for us kids; I was about 14, so the dances I threw were fun for teens. Quite innovative for a young girl.

In the late 1970’s I moved back to the United States and experienced the scale between the more wealthy and poor. I had no friends, and was too shy to try out for school activities due to teasing or what they consider bullying today. I was in a civilian high school, so I was considered different or the odd ball. I studied and the good grades came easily. I was pulled to the “other side of the tracks” and befriended other kids who were alone.

At least I had friends, but due to peer pressure I consumed alcohol and skipped school along with them. I was then befriended by a college boy. He would be the man I marry far too young. I was completely naive to what predators existed out there on my own.

He treated me like a princess. Purchased extravagant gifts and had them delivered to my school. I received them among my peers and they began to admire me. He wanted to take me away from my abusive environment at home and asked me to marry him. I saw this as a way out as well.

My mother didn’t want me to marry, but I convinced her to let me. I was running from my father. We were kids, adapting to constant moving, meeting new kids, and exploring new geographies. We toured through the southern US and Germany twice. The family life was dysfunctional and abusive. No one I ever met seemed to know about my secret life at home. I hid it well due to shame I suppose.

My father was physically abusive. I received many violent beatings from early on in childhood. My siblings did as well. My mother and father fought too. When they did it scared me and my siblings and we’d run out of the house and hide and cry. I remember thinking that he was going to kill her. She called the police once but they told her to defend herself. She was 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighed 95 pounds. He was double her size.

My father, I believe was crazy, or perhaps suffered from bipolar syndrome. I was so afraid of him that I avoided him whenever possible. One time when I was sixteen he beat me so badly, hitting and kicking me while I was tucked into a corner, for returning home ten minutes late from a date. I thought I was going to die. These beatings usually took place when my mother was out of the house. Being a kid I thought it was all a part of growing up. There were no awareness campaigns like there are today.

My mother kept our family together and did the best she could under circumstances in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Women with four children had no options back then. As an adult I realized, after what I endured in my own marriage, though not as severe as her suffering, that she must have raised us while teetering toward a nervous breakdown.

In 1979, at age seventeen, I sought passage out of my “hell” and married a man seven years my senior. This person was going to set me free of my emotional and physical pain and punishment. On my wedding day I was sick and feared I had made a grave mistake, but married anyway. He was good to me, until immediately after the moment I said I do. I went from one form of hell to another. He was still in college and I was still in high school. He wanted me to drop out, but I somehow instinctively knew completing my final year was critical.

He was in control of my life. I had no friends and he gambled both of our incomes away, which only pushed me to work more hours to house, feed and clothe us. I tried to walk away many times, but his words stabbed me as he told me I was a loser and couldn’t survive without him. Then my marriage vows echoed in my head, especially the “for better or worse” part. I wanted to die. I knew God, but wondered if I had been abandoned because of my choices.

During the eight years I was married to this smothering, controlling soul, I met some kind people who saw from the outside what I could not. They befriended me, led me to a counselling minister who sat with me and inquired about my marriage and the one of my parents. He told me that I had a bad role model and that I didn’t have to remain in my marriage. Friends showed me life could be fun and joyful instead of constant misery.

I lived in despair all those years and was just as afraid of him as I was my father. He wasn’t physically abusive – but the mental abuse made it hard to see the light and realize I had a “choice”.

Finally, a male friend of one of my friends asked me while we were immersed in conversation about my torment, “Do you stay with him because you love him, or just out of convenience?” An aha moment occurred then and I answered to this gentleman, “Neither.” This set the wheels in motion. I had a plan to get him to leave me or I would.

Within about five or six weeks, early to mid-October 1987, I left my ex-husband. After that conversation, I also had some other wonderful experiences, showing me life could be fun. I was in misery at home with a man I hated and wishing to die on a daily basis, since I didn’t know how to get out of the marriage. Each time I’d pack up my belongings and leave, which was three times total, I’d hear my wedding vows echo in my head, “For better or worse.”

Finally, this time I was ready to make my life altering leap. He was to go deer hunting and his truck had broken down. He wanted to take my car for the weekend. It was my means of escaping though, so I scrambled to find some cash I had saved and he went to buy a battery. When he left for the hunting excursion I got into my car and drove 3,000 miles across the United States and found my new life.

It was scary, but I had a support network of friends and family in place. I was to contact them each evening when I pulled off the road into lodging. I made the trek with a few bags and my cat in tow in three days. The trip was liberating. I established a great distance between my husband and myself, giving me a sense of freedom I never felt before. I reached my destination in three days, settled in and found job immediately.

our wedding

In early December, after shopping for attire to wear to my office Christmas party, I stopped off at a club for a drink. It was within a half mile of my home. I felt safe there, since the bouncer and bar tender knew me. They warned me of people to stay away from. Guardian Angels? I sat at the bar this particular night to have one single drink. Next to me was Will, my soon to be husband.

We talked and danced and felt like we had known each other for years. I was usually quite paranoid of meeting men, since I was just freshly out of a bad relationship and preferred to remain single. I actually gave Will a ride home. He asked if I would. His friends wanted to leave the club, but he wanted to stay and to do so he’d need a ride home. I agreed. I can’t explain that action. I not only drove him home I went into his apartment and then spent the night. I had never done that in my entire life. Well, it ended well. Will called me and we saw each other again that night and every night afterwards until we moved in together the following June, 7 months after we met.

I believe in angels. Perhaps that is a broad term, but somehow the entities of the Universe put things into my life that made it worth living – living exuberantly. A gift for making the leap? I wonder. The suffering I had endured due to fear, for much of my life, was the meter I used to understand the level of happiness I felt now.

Our life was always so magical; we were best friends, and inseparable. All these stories are in my first book, “No Regrets, My Love”. Will and I connected immediately. Soul-mates, I’m certain. Life became a fairy tale. I was grateful for taking the brave step of walking away from my old life of control and low self-esteem.

We courted for about two years and then in 1990 we were married. Loss plagued our marriage in the early years after my husband’s father died from cancer. Rather than turning to counselling  to sort out the emotional roller coaster ride, he turned to beer. Then it began to rule his life. This eventually caused a rift between us and I felt let down.

In 1994 my husband seemingly hit his personal bottom by landing in jail for fighting with a man and almost killing him in their inebriated states. They were fighting over the fact that my husband’s dog disliked and growled at him. The argument became physical. He was arrested and then incarcerated for 33 months. It was another journey for me as well as him.

I knew Will was worth the fight if he could remain sober. He promised me he would. He guaranteed it by telling me that he was taught never to make a promise he couldn’t keep. Other than the ones he made in our wedding vows he never promised anything else so I took him seriously. We wrote to each other every day of the week, talked on the phone twice a week, and I visited him at the prison once or twice a week depending on the schedule of the facility.

Will stepped from behind concrete walls and barbed wire in the spring of 1997 and enjoyed freedom. We moved to northern New Hampshire to escape personalities that wanted to control our life. We were dabbling in the recreation of dog sledding and found a home in the mountains which enabled us to do it more readily. The house we purchased sat on 27 acres of land. The home needed major renovations. My husband was a licensed builder so we took on the task ourselves. He taught me so much. I use my carpentry skills now. He took a new job in February 2008 with a transformer company. His job was to travel all over the eastern United States and service transformers for large companies and factories.

He was trained in the United States Air Force for the task before I knew him. He raised the issue that he was performing his dangerous job without the equipment required by law to his boss. They denied that they were responsible for supplying the equipment. (They are wrong; it is mandated in this country.)

I had no real knowledge of just how dangerous Will’s job was. I think he kept that from me so I wouldn’t worry more than I already did. At one point he showed me some e-mails he sent to his boss making such requests and their replies denying them. He asked me to save them, so I did. I never knew they’d be important later.

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I told Will to go ahead and purchase the gear he needed for his safety. He had a credit card with a rather high balance on it and wanted to make one more sizable payment first. Three days later he was killed. He was in Lake Placid, New York at Whiteface Mountain ski resort, part of the Olympic Games grounds. I found out he was servicing the third transformer for the day and was killed in the process.

The places Will worked at were responsible for having someone follow him and that day that person saw the accident. He called 911. The coroner later told me the electricity sent out an arc of 30,000 volts and hit him in the face near his right eye. That killed him instantly by massive coronary.

Will used to tell me about these people that followed him. He didn’t know why they would. Even after inquiry, Will’s boss never revealed why. I discovered through a law suit that person sent to follow Will was there to de-energize the transformers he serviced if he deemed it necessary. He was told by his boss he could absolutely never turn off the transformers. Only due to greed was this mandated by his employer. Had Will turned the transformers off, he would have only serviced half of what he normally did. They were paid by volume, so the more done in a day brought in more revenue. The company had been in financial trouble since the father died a few years earlier and left the company to his three sons. They knew nothing of managing the company.

On August 26, 2008, Will was ripped out of my life, by his sudden accidental death via high voltage electricity of 30,000 volts striking him in the head. I felt there was nothing left to live for and fell deeply into my despair. I felt I couldn’t beat this. We had worked so hard to make our life beautiful, simple, and authentically ours. I was too tired to work anymore. I was giving up. The pain was defeating me. I wondered why God took him even after we worked so hard to be happy. After some time passed I understood that we had many great years together and knew Will died at the predestined date he chose before he arrived to earth.

For many years I have always believed that we die the day our “time card” is picked. I’m not sure if it was a belief passed on by my mother, intuition, or learned from reading actually. My mother raised me in the Catholic faith, but religion has never truly resonated with me fully. I live by the Ten Commandments, but try to live more spiritually. I am a soul that came here for a purpose – an experience. I didn’t come here for religious leaders to fill my head and control me. Every time I went to church it seemed to be filled with hypocrisy. So I guess I would say I’m a nomad of a soul finding my own way. However, not without God. I have strong faith in Him. Without it I can’t imagine why pain would have purpose. I hope it has purpose, because I’ve had a lot of it in my life. I have read much about the soul coming here, why, and that it comes many times. My mother taught me about Edgar Cayce and his readings. In a crazy world it all seems to make more sense to me. I don’t know why, but I’ve always believed we come here and we leave just as charted. It’s just that we, as humans, don’t get to see the map of that course. I guess it would be like cheating on a test if we knew the trials and outcome. We wouldn’t strive to do well.

My first book, a memoir called, “No Regrets, My Love” was produced during the phase of needing to purge the pain of grief. My family and friends kept me afloat by asking me questions about time periods in our marriage in e-mails. I’d answer them, while at the same time I kept a journal, and they’d tell me how eloquently I wrote and should consider producing a book. I never really thought I had anything worthy to share in print, but was driven to do so somehow.

MC book

A friend told me about how to publish it myself using a company called Author House. I contacted the company and was shown the different publishing packages they offer. I have a meager salary and the prices were impossible for me. I had heard that many are turned down by traditional publishing houses.

I had seen a psychic medium, by chance, and without saying a word, she knew all about my book. I had never seen this woman before, nor had I ever seen a medium at all. She told me how the book was written in three parts, what each part was about, and many other details.

Part One is about discovering my husband is dead, how I was notified, the shock of it, the funeral, and our last romantic moments together. Part Two is the memoir of my twenty one plus years with Will. Our highs and lows and how we made life simple and wonderful after our struggles. Part Three is my personal account of the “Year of Firsts”, the journey of all the first encounters that send one plummeting into despair after loss, and then the when healing began to emerge and save me. It’s quite magical. Most readers reveal that they are astounded by the book. I’m glad about that.

This medium told me the book must be printed so it can work to heal many. That was the driving force to push to self-publish rather than look for an agent and go the traditional route.

I was going to test my luck, but suddenly I received a phone call from the insurance company handling my husband’s death claim. They had miscalculated and I was due to be awarded another $15,000. I used that money to produce my book. I took the money as a sign that I had to print the book. It was just too coincidental to think it wasn’t meant to be. Many books I have read say there are no coincidences and I believe in that. Everything happens for a reason.

The book has helped many, as well as me, through the despair of losing someone close to you. Will was killed in 2008 and it still seems like yesterday. I will admit the pain is still there, but the tears are beginning to become fewer.

Margaret C book

Initially, my family and close friends bought the book. Shortly thereafter, a friend advised me on creating a Facebook page for the book. Slowly, I got new fans to like the page and share. Then word of mouth brought more sales in. I held book signing events locally and sales were wonderful there as well. People like to read about people they knew and loved. My husband did a lot for community and military veterans here. He is greatly missed.

The book came out in December 2009. I have currently sold about 400 of them myself through word of mouth. I do not have a website. I’m not sure the monetary investment would be worth it so I rely on Facebook only. I think God will lead people to it if they need to read it. I have read many books that mysteriously show up in my lap or that I feel drawn to when I see them on a shelf. Each always had a message for me.

I printed 650 books and sell them myself. Now they are selling abundantly again with the new book out. I had one book signing event last week and sold eight more copies of the first book along with twenty of the new one. I am getting wonderful feedback on my writing. I really had no idea I had the talent, other than a 12th grade English teacher telling me so. I never went that route after high school.

I wasn’t going to college, it was never presented to me, a terrible failing on the teachers and counsellors part I think. When I was nineteen I fell into a dental position and worked in that field for almost thirty years. I’m only retired from that work because Will had to travel extensively and I had to be home for our animals. I never thought I could stand retirement, but actually I’m enjoying it. I work in my fields, in the woods, and on the old house to stay busy. My dogs also keep me active and in nature with many walks. Nature has been my saving grace after losing Will.

I never thought I’d survive my loss. I had a plan to take my own life after someone shared another memoir. In it a man takes his life by hiking into the mountains, getting drunk and freezing to death in the middle of February. I was intrigued to the painless way of checking out of my life and the gripping pain of it. My soul must be strong – it recruited people to help me and saved me.

I have always done for myself, which has made me very independent. However, I thought everyone was like me. I’ve discovered that isn’t the case. When Will was killed, I so badly wanted to die. I’d wake up each morning, thinking, “Oh God, not another day. Why didn’t you take me?” I had three dogs that depended on me. My mother moved in with me the day Will was killed and stayed for about a year. Strangers came and befriended me. They were patient and never told me how to endure my grief, to move on, get over it, or anything negative. They talked to me, let me talk to them and handed me a tissue if the tears began to flow.

My Irish heritage gives me the gift of gab. I shared my deepest thoughts of wishing to die and go be with my beloved husband on the Other Side. They silently listened and then acted. My sister found a counsellor that would treat me for a minimal fee in conjunction with a Catholic charitable organization. She actually called the therapist who in turn called me and scheduled my first appointment.

It was what I needed. I didn’t know how to deal with the pain. I was angry, felt betrayed by God for taking Will, even though I believed we die when we are supposed to. But, it wasn’t supposed to happen to me. We had plans, many more goals. We isolated ourselves from the world and lived together harmoniously. Suddenly, everything was gone. In a blink of an eye!

When I read, I prefer self-help books. I find when I read I need to learn and this genre does that for me. I read many books about communications after death and the Other Side. I already believed we live on as a soul – I suppose the reading material was to validate it all in my painful state. As I wrote my first book, and it continues, my computer printer would come on all by itself in the middle of the night while I worked. I wrote form 10 p.m. until 2 or 3 a.m. and the printer performed around 11:30 at night.

I felt so blessed, and KNEW Will was behind it, that it helped me to hold onto this life. He was with me even though I couldn’t see him. He hadn’t left me fully. As I was writing Will’s cousin confided that she had been having a dream about me at my computer writing every night for weeks. She told me Will told her in the dream to tell me to keep writing because he will speak to me through my words. After she gave me the message the dreams ceased. Amazing!

I did many laborious tasks without tiring during the first year of loss. It helped me get the anger out. Friends and family e-mailed and called me every day for that first year. When I spoke to them or replied I was able to vent to a degree. I think writing and speaking about my pain helped me to see it and finally deal with it positively.

I attended a bereavement support group alongside my therapy for one year. I morphed in time to be the one helping others at the group rather than the facilitator. I had to stop going because it seemed as though she wasn’t comfortable with this activity.

Since my loss and publishing my first book, people who are in need of healing come to me on the street or at events and share their story. They have no one to talk to and have no idea where to go or what to do for help. I’m the medium that can lead them to where they need to go to heal. Either by simply sharing and listening, telling them about my therapist, some of the tools I obtained from therapy, or suggesting the support group route. Since I can talk to mostly anyone so candidly – I think I have been appointed to help lead others to healing. It’s amazing to me and I feel fortunate to be able to help them.

Even though I no longer consider taking my own life, I do pray for my days to end when my pain resurfaces. The pain of loss strikes when I least expect it to. I can drive by a place and a memory comes and then tears due to missing the times we shared. I do not expect it to resurface, it just happens. I do not enjoy the suffering. It actually knocks me down pretty well.

Margaret Cowie4

It’s a fight to pull myself together at times. I have the tools my eighteen months of therapy offered and from reading books about grief. I have also designed some cue cards and displayed them around my house to help me get on track when I fall. I do believe the pain is part of the journey and the healing. I also think that if we hold back on our tears, anger, sadness, etc., it only postpones healing. My therapist told me this. I have seen many who have pushed grief aside; remaining stoic and then suddenly when something hits them it’s really hard. Had they faced it initially, they’d be more advanced along the road of healing.

I go with the flow. It all has purpose. I try to keep my grief to myself more now. It has been a little over three years since Will was killed. I am glad to be in touch with my emotions though. It gives me the ability to have compassion for others and do what comes so naturally to me – counsel and help them. They are my gifts from God to do work here on earth. It may not be very big, but I help many people, one at a time. (Just like you do with your Facebook posts.) I am human and weak at times. I work very hard at forging ahead. My writing, communication with others that are experiencing what I have, and my dogs help me accomplish this.

I believe I was divinely inspired to write my memoir. The hours, in which I wrote, while still maintaining a household, splitting and stacking wood and other laborious tasks, taking care of dogs, and never feeling sleep deprived. I poured my feelings onto paper, and shared with the world. I’m discovering this world is in pain and not sure how to deal with it. I’m not a psychic-medium, but am quite in tune intuitively and with my dreams. After I finished the manuscript I began rearranging chapters. That night while lying in bed, a deep masculine voice told me to leave the book as it is. I changed it all back the next morning.

I can’t really explain why I wrote it, I only felt driven to do so. Was God working through me? I’d like to think so. I put many good and bad aspects of my life with Will in the book. Many things were secrets to friends and community. Some things I left out and people later asked why. The thoughts never came to me, they must not have been important to include. Also a man once told me, “You’re writing a memoir, not a biography.” And, like I said, I wrote what flowed through my fingertips.

Feedback from readers has indicated the book was a gem for helping them cope with their loss and also dealing with relationship issues. Even my therapist read it and suggests it to her clients. So I guess my aim was exactly what it’s doing. It helped me while writing it, reading it over and over again and it working its magic with others. I have to believe losing Will was mandatory in my soul’s journey to experience it and then heal others with my words and wisdom.

My new book, “The Widow-bago Tour, a Journey of Healing” is a sequel of sorts. It is fiction and non-fiction combined. I used an exaggerated book signing tour, (the one I did was small and local) as a vehicle to help offer people healing during their journey through grief.

With all the stories I have heard and continue to hear from strangers looking for help, I created similar stories and ones from my own mind for the book. I felt compelled to develop a stage to share these stories. Since I knew something about book signing events, hoped to have larger ones, perhaps nationally, I wrote a story about it. I created characters for each book-store that hosted a book signing event to make the book interesting, with adventure and compassion. Each book event was so successful and crowded that we quickly turned them into forums and I took questions from the audience and answered from my heart. This is what I do in life quite often, except they are one on one.

At my physical book events, those wishing to purchase my books also come with a story of loss and tell them to me. I must have inviting eyes. Sometimes the line gets rather long due to each person sharing. So in the fictionalized book events I created forums to take the questions and answer them to make the line for purchasing my book go quicker for the others waiting.

As a journalist recently put it in an interview I gave for her newspaper, I have fused fiction with non-fiction to create a great story that people can identify with.

It is also filled with personal experiences through my own healing. I sat to write and the chapters made me cry. I tried to stray from my writing and I would become blocked. So I proceeded with what I had and the flow took over and soon I had another story ready for print. I have to believe my past made me strong enough to handle my new situation. And, that my experience and trait of being detail oriented helped me create stories to help others because what I say is “real”. Everyone has dealt with pain on some level and, everyone has story.

So now, I’m a widow, but I do not introduce myself in that manner. I’m still Margaret; I just have more pages to my life’s story.

I do not seek a new love. I love nature and my deceased husband. I am filled spiritually.

I was married twice. I know what is out there from experience. I hear all the stories from others who are miserably married. I love Will today as much as the day I married him, if not more. I do not crave love from another, or the physical needs from another. I’m content knowing I will do my work here, helping others, noticing nature, working with the Universe to create a beautiful world, and will be united with Will again one day.

I have healed enough, after much work at it, that I can continue in life alone. I have friends, am very independent and choose to live my life without others telling me what to or not to do. I doubt many human beings could tolerate my independence. Will and I clicked like the gears of a Swiss clock. I’m proud of that and don’t want to do the work involved in sorting through relationships to find another soul mate… I believe there is only one. Will is that one for me. My physical desires are only for Will, and if I cannot have him then I will wait until we are reunited for that special welcome home hug. I believe in life after death and that our loved ones will greet us upon our transition through the veil. Although, Will visits frequently I cannot wait to feel him hold me again. I can hope for that experience, right? Even if it will only be two souls being reunited.

I keep busy trying to help shine light on a dark place and make our world once of peace, one soul at a time. I have 27 acres that I maintain now. My husband and I remodelled our house together. He was a licensed carpenter and taught me all he knew about the trade. So, I mow fields with a 1951 Farmall Tractor, keep trees and branches at bay along our walki

ng trails that criss-cross this land, replace bridges across the brooks that have failed, dabble in photography still, market my books, and cherish my days with my dogs and cat, who can always make me smile in my bluest moods.

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I trust God is taking me where I am supposed to go and ask him for guidance each day. I do not see God physically, I see him as the creator of all things. I look at “Him” as the grantor of the gift of living. I see living as an experience in the physical body. I trust God will help when we cry out for it, but that he answers in mysterious ways. I also believe we create our own world on many levels depending on our actions and the reaction that comes with them. I have learned through my tragic loss to live one day at a time.

~Margaret Cowie


Copyright © Jolita Kelias 2013

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