Mother died June 28, 1998 in the house we built for her.
In 2001, a woman named Sally came to work for our bed and breakfast as a part-time housekeeper. She’d been with us for several months when she came to me and said, “Your mother wants to talk to you.” And I said, “Excuse me?” Sally had never met my mother. She said she was hesitant to approach me because some people don’t believe in ghosts.
But I do.
Sally was incredibly sweet. In the old days we would’ve called her “touched.” She had no filter, which left her open to communicate with the other side.
I told her I was curious so we went to Mother’s house. Sally pointed to a spot, said Mother was sitting there and described things she couldn’t have otherwise known.
Sally said, “Mrs. Lupo, I brought Marie.” Mother wouldn’t talk to Sally so she said, “I suppose you’re going to have to go.” Off I went.
Sally came to me later and said Mother wanted me to read the last book she read. Mother was an insomniac in her later years and a voracious reader. The woman went through five books a week.
I had no idea what Mother read last, so Sally and I went back to the house with a box and started pulling books off the shelf. As I touched them, I had a gut feeling about one, but sent it home with Sally in the box.
She brought it and another book back with her the next day: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and All We Hold Dear by Kathryn Lynn Davis. The latter is the story of a young girl who searches for answers to a family issue — something her mother had been unable to accomplish. I was dealing with family issues at the time as well, so it felt right.
But I didn’t understand why she included Atlas Shrugged. I knew Mom had loved it. And even though I don’t believe in all of Rand’s philosophies, I had read and enjoyed the book long before Sally brought it to me.
Several years later, I was recounting the story of Mother, Sally and the books at a dinner party at our house, which is now the private dining room at the Inn. I was chatting away, connecting the dots, then looked at Steve and gasped. It finally hit me.
Sally gave me the book in 2001, just one year after we did the initial plan for Serenbe.
Atlas Shrugged is Rand’s diatribe against labor unions and how they can destroy society. In the book, labor unions fight against corporate CEOs. One by one, the CEOs remove themselves from the fight and disappear.
But one CEO, a woman named Dagny, stays and fights because she believes in capitalism. Eventually she too gets on a plane and is taken to a valley in Colorado. And there are all the CEOs. They all realized they couldn’t continue to fight anymore so they allowed the labor unions to take over. They knew the unions would eventually fail and their services would be needed. When it was time to return, they’d go together.
What Mother wanted me to know is that Serenbe is a valley of its own. A place for people to retreat. And it makes so much sense because some of the first people to get what we were doing and join the community were CEO types and business owners. It didn’t make sense on paper, and many said we’d fail. But sometimes you have to leave what you know to find what you need.