When I visited her in her home in Martinsville, NJ, she lived with her father and sister, and a rather intense (muzzled) dog named Sam. I saw that the walls of her room were filled with shelves and the shelves filled with volumes of braille, including a braille dictionary of considerable size. Some of these binders were also filled with stories she had written, along with three novels.
Last night, while out in my garage doing some cleaning (that is, trying to get rid of a bit of my clutter) I found some interesting items, including two binders of stories by Charlene which a friend of hers had typed up for me. "My New Home" is the first in the yellow binder. If I remember correctly it is one of her earliest. When I read it last night I was struck by its simple beauty, and wanted to share it here.
My New Home
by C. F. Groves
I have already searched through the rooms of this strange house once. Now for the second time, I explore carefully each odd corner. Again I examine every unfamiliar smell. I am on my second trip around the living room, when I realize it is no use. My mother, sisters and brothers are gone. I have been taken from them.
There is a bowl of warm milk, plus a bowl of dry cat food, over in the corner by the big window. But they do not interest me.
"Meow! Meow!" I am lost in this strange new world. The world has suddenly become too large for me. At present it is a very lonely world. "Meow! Meow! Meow!" I cry.
"Oh, there you are kitty. I've been looking all over for you."
"Meow!" I say again.
"What's the matter, kitty? Your food and milk are right here in the corner."
Oh if only I could make this little boy understand me.
"Please don't cry, kitty. I know what the trouble is. I bet you're lonely. I know I would be if I were in your place."
Then a most amazing thing happened. The little boy bent down and picked me up. He sat down on the floor and held me in his lap. Immediately I relax, and snuggle into the warmth of his body. Soon I am purring loudly. I am no longer afraid.
I stay in the little boy's lap for the rest of the afternoon, drawing deep comfort from the sound of his voice as he talks to me. I doze frequently. I am only half aware of the steady beating of rain on the roof.
My mind drifts back into a dream of my past. In the dream, I am with my mother again. I feel warm and safe. My stomach is full of her rich nourishing milk. I have a cozy place to sleep among my brothers and sisters. But those days are gone forever. I, the son of Tiger, must now make the best of things in this new world, the way they are right at this present moment.
When I wake up, the boy is still talking to me and stroking my fur. I know now that this boy has given me his friendship. I feel warm and safe being with him. I sigh happily. I, the son of Tiger, have no more time to be afraid. I have no more time to be a silly little kitten who jumps at his own shadow every time it moves. I have to be a cat. A tiger cat. Afraid of nothing.
Lazily I stretch. Then I raise myself up. I yawn hugely, and leap to the floor. I walk over to my bowl and begin drinking my milk. This is my new home. I am going to be very happy here.
Photos of George Melvin courtesy of my daughter Christina.