CHILLICOTHE – Adena Hospice Spiritual Coordinator Cameron Caseman is proud to keep a treasured copy of a rare book – one of 40 copies never printed – in his office. Inscribed inside is a very special note to be cherished forever from the author of the book, Holle Johnson: “My earthly angel, without the sun you brought me I would never have had my bow.” -in sky.
Registration is fair. Holle, a former hospice patient who went to angels over the Thanksgiving holiday season, had waited 28 years to see her children’s book, “It’s a Secret,” published. The story, which she wrote and illustrated herself, contains a heavy dose of angels and rainbows and she said she was destined to remain hidden in the dark so that her son, Jeff, finds her in the future before Cameron comes to help him. bring it to the light.
Holle said in an interview just a week before her death that in her youth she had thought of writing and illustrating children’s books, but these were just thoughts and were never followed by effect. Never, that is, until the early 1990s, when she was a volunteer parent for the art club of which Jeff was a part.
âWe had a weird conversation, and we were talking about the rainbow, and there was kind of a fight over whether indigo is really in a rainbow,â she recalls. âHe was getting into a scientific topic about how the temperatures of all colors could be measured and it was way over my head. I said, ‘The angels did it,’ and I left. It just sparked this idea, so I followed it and wrote this story. Then I decided since I wrote the story that I might as well do the pictures.
The creation process lasted nine months, after which she applied for and obtained a Library of Congress copyright for the work. He was asked to visit the classrooms at his son’s school to read his original copy of the book, but his work never went beyond that. While carrying a lot of sentimental meaning to her, she didn’t know how to get it published. She didn’t see it as a perfect job, and she faced issues that made her try to publish the book out of mind.
Fast forward to just a few months ago, when Cameron had her first visit with Holle as part of her hospice responsibilities. As the two spoke, Cameron mentioned that he published his first book earlier this year, prompting Holle to mention his unpublished work and withdraw it to show him what she had done. He immediately saw a change take place in her – a “sparkle in her eyes.”
âWhat I usually say to people in hospice care is to find something to live for, something to get up for every day,â he said. âHolle was a walker, she had a coffee club, she did different things and she was very, very active. So it really wasn’t a problem, but I asked her if there was anything she would really like to do. She kept mentioning the book. She never said she wanted to make sure it got published, but she kept talking about it.
Cameron saw an opportunity to make Holle’s unspoken dream come true, her experience and contacts since publishing her own book make the couple’s meeting seem almost destined to happen.
He immediately contacted attorneys he knows to explore any potential legal issues and, with Holle’s direct intervention, convinced her ex-husband to sign his share of the rights to the written book while the couple were still married to. she. The night that these issues were resolved, he emailed the company that had published his book and shared part of his story and a photo of the book’s cover. After seeing more photos and Holle being a hospice patient, the publisher decided to make the project a top priority and got the pages from her.
The book’s pre-publication proof returned three or four days later, and, in all the excitement, a crucial mistake first went unnoticed. It was then that an element of chance intervened again.
âI left it and I was supposed to tell the editor by 3pm that it was okay,â Cameron said. âI forgot to do this, and around 4:30 pm she called me and let me know that page 1 was missing, so obviously without that the story didn’t make much sense. I was that bad guy who forgot to call the company to let them know.
Normally, the situation would have created a second round of sent proofs and the accompanying delay. The publisher, who agreed to insert the missing page and do a double and triple check before releasing the final product, struck a deal with Cameron on telephone approval and had the book published, voluntarily doubling the original order. of 20 copies to supply 40 and allowing a significant reduction in the cost of production.
Holle didn’t know any of this until Cameron, working with a social worker and with Jeff, surprised her in the lobby of her apartment building with her books spread out on a table under balloons and a celebration sign. The gesture, she said, left her speechless.
âFor me, it’s like I don’t have the weight of the world on my shoulders anymore, if that makes sense,â she said. âIt was just something that had been forgotten, and now it has become clear. It was never meant to be revealed back then, it just wasn’t meant to be, but patience is a virtue.
The promise of the book’s publication pushed her to act on a long-dormant idea for a follow-up to “It’s a Secret,” which she planned to title, “It’s a Secret: The Sequel” . By the time of her death, she had already completed the story and about 80% of the illustrations done.
Before his death, working to get the book published had been something positive that Cameron and the hospice staff could grasp and follow. Most of the time, palliative care work involves helping patients work through their financial woes or issues and creating opportunities for them to say goodbye while providing reassurance, guidance and purpose. Turning Holle’s dream into reality and seeing her work on her next project has been inspiring. Turning the book around in a matter of weeks instead of the months that such an endeavor would usually take has proved satisfying, giving him the chance to see and retain the results of his precious work.
For Holle, however, it was just a gift from her “Earthly Angel”.
âWhat touched me more than anything was when Cameron read the book he said, ‘It’s your legacy,'” she said. âBack then, when I did the book, it was my thought, it was just something to leave behind. I didn’t know it would go anywhere, but it would be something that my son, one day rummaging through my things, would find and say, âWow! I didn’t know mom was doing this. It was just something to leave behind, and now Cameron has made that wish come true.
For more information on Adena Hospice care, visit Adena.org/hospice or call 740-779-4663.
Author Holle Johnson, holding her book It’s a Secret, seated with Adena Hospice’s spiritual coordinator, Cameron Caseman.