Giving Books

I’ve worried occasionally about how I’m going to give out 500 copies of the book I’ve written about Jody.  Today eased that concern considerably.

I started this morning at Parkwood Hospital, where Jody worked for 20 years.  There were five or six people I was trying to find, folks who had asked for a copy.  First I met a fellow who had been a colleague of Jody’s years ago, when she worked with veterans at the hospital.  He knew that Jody had died but not that I had written the story of her illness and death.  I sat on an angled stand that showed a map of the fourth floor and wrote some thankful words about him and Jody while he watched my pen move across the page.  I was thrilled to give the book to him and he was so happy to have it.

Within a few minutes, three women were gathered around me.  I felt a wee tiny bit like a rock star.  Two of the women had been looking forward to having Jody’s story but the third person was approaching me to let me know that she was going on the Heart and Stroke Big Bike Ride in June.  She was doing it in honour of Jody and another Parkwood occupational therapist who died recently.  I was so happy when I heard her news.  I mentioned that I had written a book about Jody and asked her if she’d like a copy.  She started crying … and kept going.  How very beautiful to be present for her tears.  She cried some more when I handed Jodiette: My Lovely Wife to her.

Later, in the elevator, I told a young woman how much fun I was having, signing Jody’s books.  She told me that she was an occupational therapy student.  “I saw a book in the office, with the photo of a woman on the cover.  Is that your wife?”  “Yes … … Would you like a copy?”  She lowered her head, paused, and said “yes”.  Such lovely shyness.  I sat with her for a few minutes in the cafeteria and wrote, “May you serve your patients with love, as Jody did.”

Next I drove over to one of the schools where I assisted visually impaired kids until I retired last June.  More inscriptions, more signings, and the chance to sit with a class of Grade 2/3 children and tell them about my dear wife.  What a privilege.

Then it was off to another school, where person after person welcomed me in the hallway, and several of them said yes to Jodiette.  The principal was so pleased to have me back in her school.  She had read many of my e-mails about Jody to her husband, and some of my thoughts touched them.  Gosh, that’s what I want in life – to touch people.  In the photocopier room, an old friend of mine said no to the book, and cried as she did so.  It had been too heartrending when she read some of my e-mails.  Not receiving Jody’s book was a good decision for her.

Okay, now it was hometime.  Should I follow suit?  Not quite.  I drove a few miles to The London Free Press.  A writer I had met on the train ten days ago had suggested I leave a copy for a certain columnist there, in hopes that he would review it in the paper.  So I did, attaching a note: “In a perfect world, someone at The Free Press would review my book.  But if that doesn’t happen, at least they can read a love story.”  Who knows what will happen?

One final stop: Chapters on Wellington Road South.  Would a big bookstore put our book on display?  A manager told me to e-mail the guy who’s responsible for consignments.  I’ll do that later tonight.  Who knows what will happen?  Again.  I left a copy for him.

An employee who had heard this conversation told me where I’d find books on Buddhism.  I found what looked like a good one and sat down on a chair to do some page flipping.  Okay, done deal.  I walked over to the till and there was my navigator friend.  As I paid for How To Wake Up, he wished me good luck with the consignment and said he’d buy a copy.  “How about if I give you one right now?”  (Pause.  “No, no.”  Smile.  “Well, okay.”)  So I did.

As I was heading towards the entrance, I glanced over to a young female employee who had also been there for the original conversation.  She was sitting at a desk, reading a book.  A familiar-looking book.  One with a beautiful woman on the cover … my Jodiette.  She smiled and said, “This is good.  I’m going to buy one when we display them.”

(Now’s the time for Copy and Paste.)

“How about if I give you one right now?”  (Pause.  “No, no.”  Smile.  “Well, okay.”)  So I did.

The world is a wonder.

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