Natchez homeowner’s book, ‘Stop Waiting to Die,’ debuts on Amazon Tuesday

Published 6:54 pm Monday, June 12, 2023

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NATCHEZ — The new owner of the historic house Holly Hedges has written a book that releases on Tuesday and is available for purchase on Amazon in hardback, paperback and Kindle.

“It also will be available as an audiobook. I’ve already recorded it, but it won’t be out for a couple of months,” Tammy Pack said in a telephone interview from her Fredericksburg, Texas, home on Monday afternoon.

She and her husband, Wes, purchased Holly Hedges in Natchez as a vacation home approximately two years ago and are in the process of renovating it.

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“Basically, all of us at some point in our life want to start over, whether it’s your career, relationship or health. In this day and age, we can change what we want to change. That wasn’t the case 50 or 60 years ago. Whatever you were, that was it,” Pack said.

Pack knows about life changes from personal experience. Now 56, Pack graduated from the University of Texas School of Law at age 23 in 1999. By the time she was 28, she knew she needed a change.

Her book, “Stop Waiting To Die,” chronicles her journey from working as an attorney to selling everything, moving into a Silver Avion trailer while opening a retail business, and eventually developing a website that brokers guest houses in the tourist town of Fredericksburg.

“I have family members – one was a janitor and another a secretary – who could tell you exactly how many days they had until they could collect Social Security. I thought that was a terrible way to live,” she said. “If you hate what you are doing, find a way to change it. In today’s world, we can do that. Even if you are 60 or 70, you can change yourself. With life expectations today, if you are 65 or 70, you could probably have two more careers if you wanted to.”

After practicing law for several years, Pack said she realized that she needed a change.

“I was working forever. There was no flexibility. I realized I may want to have a child one day and I may want to take her to ballet. Practicing law would not have allowed that,” she said.

At the time, her mother, the late Jeannine Jordan, operated a small business buying and reselling quilts.

“Mom had a little swap shop on Highway 59 in Marshall. She would go find quilts, buy them and resell them. She told me, ‘Look at this. I’m making more money than you are and you are an attorney.’ She was worried about me. She saw I had 100 files I was working on. I decided I wanted to try what she was doing,” Pack said.

The key to making a meaningful change in reinventing yourself is being willing to put in the work. Pack and her then-husband sold everything they had and opened their quilt store in a storage shed in a car wash in Post, Texas. They borrowed a Silver Avion trailer, which she called a knockoff of an Airstream, and moved into it. It had no bathroom, and they had to use the one in the shed.

“I knew if it didn’t work, I could always go back to practicing law,” Pack said. “I thought, if not now, when? I prevailed upon my husband at the time and sold my car and used the $7,500 in equity to buy my first load of quilts and gifts and started selling them in 1995. You know what? I loved it. It was complete freedom. I wasn’t working any less. I worked until 9 or 10 at night. It took off from day one.”

By the time she moved to Fredericksburg, Pack had six stores and had incorporated women’s clothing into them.

Later, she would buy a home in Fredericksburg, which is a major Texas tourist destination, and rent it as a guesthouse. Soon after, she began a website, Absolute Charm Reservations, and accepted reservations for the 208 bed and breakfasts and guesthouses in Fredericksburg.

She and her husband divorced in 2015, “though we are still good friends,” and she married her husband, Wes Pack.

Pack got her real estate license in 2009 and began Absolute Charm Real Estate in Fredericksburg. The firm grew quickly to the number one agency in the Fredericksburg Multiple Listing Service market.

“We grew our team, did our own marketing. We still do all those things,” Pack said.

In April 2021, Pack brought Wes to Natchez on vacation. Wes had never been to Natchez at the time.

“I have been coming to Natchez since I was 22 years old. I told myself a long time ago that somehow, someway; I was going to have a home in Natchez. I love the place. I love the history. I love the people.

“I also told Wes, ‘by the way, we are going to look at six or seven houses while we are there,’” she said.

The couple bought Pilgrimage tour tickets and toured The Burn, owned by Terrell Williams, among others.

“When we were on the tour, I told Terrell I had seen The Burn on Zillow. He asked why we were looking on Zillow and I told him. He said, ‘I’m having a cocktail reception tonight. Why don’t y’all come and meet everybody?’ We went from being tour ticket people to going to The Burn to socialize.

“Wes fell in love with Natchez instantly. He loved the beauty of the city. He loved the history. But it was the warmth of the people that won him over,” Pack said. She said in the end, it was Wes who chose to buy Holly Hedges.

Pack said she is happier, healthier and looks better now than she did 10 years ago because she invests in herself. She said the book took her four years to write and said she decided to do so because of the wisdom she learned from her mother, to whom she dedicated the book.

“Honestly, my mother was the greatest woman I ever knew. She had common, down home horse sense, and she told it straight. As I wrote in my dedication of the book to her, if the great lessons she taught me went to the grave with me, shame on me.”