by Marietta McCarty
Photograph © by David Heald
Photograph © by David Heald
Bereaved following her mother’s death, McCarty faces the daunting task of emptying her beloved family home. How might she find a way through the inevitable emotional turmoil and the accumulation of more than five decades in the house at 1203?
Told with McCarty’s characteristic wisdom, marvel, exuberance, and good will, LEAVING 1203 is about navigating that way through. The author draws on all available resources—friends and strangers, food and laughter, life lessons learned in the very house she now empties, and, not least, her newly-inherited West Highland terrier, Billy. McCarty simultaneously learns and deftly teaches the fine arts of remembering, letting go, and holding on to what matters most. She not only finds the way through, she shows the way.
An engaging raconteur, McCarty invites you in and welcomes you home. She exposes her generous heart and pulls you close. This wondrous volume is a gift to its readers—a hug, long held.
While home emptiers might find special comfort and resonance in LEAVING 1203, no home-emptying experience—actual or anticipated—is necessary for the reader’s enjoyment and appreciation of this book.
"LEAVING 1203 is a miraculous gift that keeps on giving long after you put it down. In poetic prose that hums with the simple grandeur of everyday life, this deeply intimate book will both enlighten and inspire you, making it impossible ever to look at a human being, or a house, or a starlit night, in the same way again. For me, reading it was like being wrapped in my favorite childhood blanket, frolicking through a world so right and true, so full of promise and rich in love, that I didn’t want to leave. But, like McCarty and her unforgettable canine companion, Billy, I had to, and when I did, a most exquisite thing happened: I found myself looking at my own life with a fresh set of eyes and a newly awakened consciousness. Suddenly, I discovered the lesson the book had been trying to teach me all along: 1203 is inside me, inside every one of us, right here, right now, no matter the circumstances of our lives or how far we may have strayed from our True North. Thank you, Marietta McCarty, for showing us all the way home—the greatest gift an author could give a reader."
― Andrew D. Kaufmann
Author of Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyian Wisdom for Troubled Times
“Whether you can or can’t truly go home again, Marietta McCarty had little choice but to return to the home of her youth, which it turns out remained part of the fabric of her being. Emptying her family home of its worldly belongings was an experience, as she shares here in touching and compelling prose, that filled her with a world of tender and moving life lessons — lessons of a universally philosophical and existential kind — that readers of this wise work are surely to absorb and carry with them. This is a work about a kind of rootedness and connectedness that no distance of time or place can erase.”
― Christopher Phillips, PhD
Author of Socrates Cafe and A Child at Heart
“This home is where your heart will be. In this eloquent book, Marietta takes the reader on a touching journey through the life of her childhood home, and you will empathize with her joy and heartbreak while reflecting on your own. One day, my siblings and I might be tasked with emptying the home my parents have lived in for 53 years. I am hopeful that we can model Marietta’s spirit and attitude and embrace this challenge as an opportunity to remember, appreciate, and connect.”
― Dr. Brent G. Richardson
LPCC-S and Chair of Department of Counseling, Xavier University, Author of Working with Challenging Youth
“This is the rare book that reveals the possibilities of a good home life. The marvelous storytelling takes us beyond the structure of a house to the interior of the hearts that lived there. This portrait of days spent in a beloved home is painted with humor, natural beauty, and joy. A river of love courses through relationships, meals, and plants and animals. Once I jumped in, nourished and inspired, I didn’t want to get out. LEAVING 1203 is a welcome, upbeat ride.”
― Jeannette P. Twomey
"Over 56 years the 'beloved brick teacher on the hill' in Richmond, Virginia served as a home base for a family of four, sometimes six, and in summer ten. Present and past stories [from] each room draw armchair visitors [into McCarty’s] family. From [father]] Mac’s basement dressing room/office to [mother] June’s kitchen and off-limits pantry to the deep closet of the author’s childhood bedroom, a colorful and textured family portrait reveals freedom from excess, deep relationships, and creative gusto. Anyone who has closed a family home, or plans to, will appreciate the methodical approach McCarty and her legion of friends and helpers took in a daunting task. While collections of garden tools, toys, furniture, letters, and newspaper clippings found new homes, [other artifacts] stayed with the new owner who is now part of McCarty’s extended family. Even if closing a house is not currently on the reader’s agenda, McCarty’s helpful advice at the end of the book offers a useful tool for de-cluttering any living space. Readers of all ages will find a home at 1203, one that is hard to leave."
― Kathy Hudson
Author of On Walnut Hill: Evolution of a Garden
"Leaving 1203 details the writer's responsibility of emptying her childhood home. It truly evokes the beauty and spiritual importance of the memories of those we love and have loved us. The book has universal relevance as pretty much everyone will be presented with this task. McCarty's wisdom and sensitivity moves us past inherent sadness to a celebration of loved ones who have shaped our lives. Humorous and heartfelt, Leaving 1203 is a true tribute to family."
― Chris Farina
“I'm beginning a second reading.... It is a precious read and full of wisdom and life. Thank you.”
—- Jeanne Reilly
Sag Harbor, New York
“You’re now in the club of writers that force me to put down their books because I know it’s going to go too fast. I'm savoring each chapter, thinking about it, sometimes laughing, sometimes choked up.”
—- Matthew Mudd
Congrats! Question: What is better than publishing one book?
Answer: Publishing 4 books and creating thousands of life rafts for others! You're doing it! Peace.
—- Carl Stacy
“While LEAVING 1203 is a small volume, it is filled with beauty, wisdom, and love. The words glide over the page and each word is a gem. I’m sure every reader will find something especially meaningful to them personally. Reading it has given me some great ideas about how to accomplish this separation with minimal pain and maximum gratitude as I empty my home of forty-seven years.”
—- Cathy S. Plotkin
“I took a break from MANSFIELD PARK to read LEAVING 1203 which I have now finished. I enjoyed it immensely. Use of items lacking monetary value to stimulate priceless memories provoked me, as I suspect it will other readers, to consider some of our own objects and the memories they represent—such as the hideous brass parrot, now hanging in our guest bathroom, which my mother had had suspended over her dining room table for years and which has been acknowledged positively by only one of our guests. She will get it someday. Upon returning to MANSFIELD PARK, I proceeded a few pages and read: ‘If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory.’“
― Robert Macdonald
Kodiak Island, Alaska
“Raised, loved, charmed, cherished, nourished, humored, guided, filled, refilled, feted, dined, celebrated, wined, fused, released in lovely 1203.”
—- M.M. Ruth
“Woohoo! LEAVING 1203 is fabulous! Taking it slow… about a chapter a night… for complete immersion in this beautiful world and its wisdom.”
—- Julie Gronlund
“I LOVED your book. It made me feel so good. There are so many ways to leave a home. Making that departure from a home where the structure itself often supported and framed so many family memories can sometimes evoke both physical and emotional crises. Your book tells me how to say “goodbye” to stuff and “hello” to loving reminiscences that I want to cherish always. After reading LEAVING 1203 I have both courage and anticipated comfort as my husband and I start to downsize. Pulling out boxes from the attic or the top shelf of a closet just might bring a smile along with a long forgotten happy family memory. It’s the memory that lasts, not the stuff.”
—- Letty Ann Macdonald
“Thanks for your heart-warming book. Dave and I are reading Leaving 1203 aloud - it’s perfect for a burst of thoughtful, reflection-producing reading over the breakfast table before we go on to our homework during the weekends. As I’m reading I can hear your voice saying each sentence - it sounds so much like you.”
—- Erin Hughey-Commers
Interview with Chris Boros at WMRA
November 12 2018
Interview with Jeff McKee at Boomtown Richmond
November 7 2018
Interview downloads as an MP3 file
Interview with Brian Keena on WTJU
November 2 2018
To access the interview, scroll to “Friday 11/2/18” and click on the player for “The Jazz Messenger.” Then hit the play button when the player appears. There are 5 minutes of transition and advertisements before the actual interview begins.
Book Review in Richmond’s Boomer Magazine
by Martha Steger
October-November 2018 Issue
A copy of the issue featuring “Emptying a home - Filling a Heart” is available throughout the Richmond Metropolitan Area or you can read the article in the link below.
A tribute to Leaving 1203: "Mid-Term Re-Centering"
by Maria Ruth
November 4 2018
”McCarty Mines the Treasures and Tragedies of What’s Left Behind”
by Bryan McKenzie, The Daily Progress
October 6 2018