Books

The boy, too, had his book, and he had tried to read it during the first few days of the journey.  But he found it much more interesting to observe the caravan and listen to the wind.  As soon as he had learned to know his camel better, and to establish a relationship with him, he threw the book away.

from The Alchemist (a book!) by Paulo Coelho

I own hundreds of them, accumulated over the last forty years.  So many about spiritual matters, lately focused on Buddhism.  So many novels, lately focused on Stephen King.  I do believe I have every book he’s published.

I’ve been more of a collector than a reader.  It’s somehow comforting to see them sitting on the shelves of my bookcases.  But sometimes I reflect on the fact that I’m 66 and that I’ll never read them all before I die.

I’ve taken thousands of quotations from the ones I have read, trying to hang on to the essence of what the author was telling me.  I’ve created “Categories” of topics and have started arranging all the words into them, to create a power not possible from just a few isolated quotes.  Trouble is, I virtually never wrote down who said what, so my ambition to publish all of this wisdom in several volumes seems thwarted by the illegality of it all.  Guess I would be sued left, right and centre.

My latest plan is to complete the sorting into topics before I die, have the books published through Blurb, find 500 organizations that might find my work valuable, put the books in bubble wrappers, each addressed to one of those places, pay for all that postage … and put them in the basement.  When I die, my executor would mail them all away, adding extra postage as needed.

I need to consult with a lawyer to see if my estate could be sued after the books are received.  Oh my.  I appear to be a very strange duck.  But I don’t want decades of quotations that resonate with my Spirit to crumble into dust.

Still .. wait a minute.  Wouldn’t it be a pretty major letting go if I dumped all my recipe cards of quotes and just trusted that the wisdom therein would reach humanity via another route?  In the movie The Razor’s Edge, the character played by Bill Murray ends up at a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas.  The lama instructs him to walk up to a little hut amid the snows and to meditate there for some time.  Our American friend takes a few of his treasured books, a couple of blankets and not much else.  After a day or two, he’s getting pretty cold, and the scarce wood is all gone.  In a moment of realization, he takes out one of the books and rips off page after page, dropping them into his little fire.  Oh my again.

Now what, Bruce?  I don’t know.  There may be delivered books, a world of insights, and a world of lawsuits.  Or perhaps all will be silence.

 

 

Eleven Readers

It was going to be an ordinary “get ready to go to Massachusetts” day.  I went to the tire shop to have new tires installed on Hugo, my Honda CRV.  And I got to see Brian again, the manager.  This man is friendly to everyone.  There was a stream of folks walking through his door and he lit up as he noticed each one.  He actually reminded me of the Dalai Lama.  So cool.

Next I went to the drugstore, parking a block away, when something hit me.  No … not a car!  A thought.  All I did was look through the front passenger window at the store beyond.  It was the office of a company which provides occupational therapy and physiotherapy to folks in their homes.  When Jody came home from the hospital in March, 2014, Kerry Ann and Kathy were of great service to her.  They were both kind.

I had a box of Jody’s books in the car.  I took two out and walked into the office.  A smiling receptionist greeted me.  My therapist friends weren’t in.  I sat there and wrote messages in the books and gave them to the receptionist, who was happy to pass them on.

Back in Hugo, I realized that there were other professionals who had been good to Jody.  I marvelled at why I hadn’t made this trip before, prior to leaving for Western Canada.  No guilt showed up, just a fascination with the waywardness of my mind.

Now, how do I find these fine humans?  I remembered that a new public health facility had been built in St. Thomas so I went there.

“Does __________ work here?”  >  “No.”

Times four.

Even though I was shooting blanks here, the receptionist was helpful in tracking down where these health care people might be hanging out.

So Hugo and I resumed the quest.  Down the street, I parked in front of another office. And voilà!  A second receptionist told me that Laura (our nurse practitioner) and Charlotte (our co-ordinator of services) each had a desk there.  They were both kind.  And they weren’t in.  More inscriptions ensued and again the woman welcoming me said she would pass on Jody’s books.

Office number three was the home of two marvelous visiting nurses – Henry and Cindy.  Henry always made Jody laugh and Cindy loved talking about non-nursey things that Jody was interested in.  Just folks, but plenty smart.  They were both kind.  And they weren’t in.  So … signing > receptionist > to be delivered.

As well as the health care heroes who had looked into Jody’s eyes, three receptionists and two drug store employees took a copy of our book.  And I know that all of them were happy to receive the gift.  Each of them will laugh.  Each of them will cry.  It’s what we human beings do.  It makes me happy.

Jody’s Books Are Here!

It’s 4:05 pm.  I just got back from a day of errands in London.  Something was different about my front door.  There was a little white rectangle sticking to it.  From Purolator.  There are 17 boxes waiting for me at their office in St. Thomas.  And I can pick them up after 5:00.  Did I mention that it’s 4:08?

Oh my God!  Jody, your books are here.  My dear wife.  The story we shared is going to reach people … whoever wants to read it.  I’m so happy, and so sad that you’re not here to share this with me.  Except you are here, and always will be.

“Yes, I certainly will always be with you, dear man.  I’m happy that people are going to read about us.  Maybe we’ll show them some things about living a life, about loving another person.  I love you so much, Bruce.  I miss touching you.  I miss holding hands.  But we’ll be together again someday, husband.  We will walk a different path and we will walk it together.”

Yes, Jodiette.  We will.

Tomorrow morning, I’m getting on a train and going to Belleville for four days.  When I get back, I’m going to write an e-mail to the 300 folks who have been with Jody and me since she was diagnosed in November, 2013.  I’m going to ask them if they would like a book.  It’s free.  I’ll pay for the postage.  And I’ll suggest that, if they want to, they donate some money to their favorite charity in memory of Jody.

But today is today.  I don’t know how many of you are out there in cyberworld, but if you would like a copy of Jodiette: My Lovely Wife, e-mail me at jodyandbruce@rogers.com and give me your address.  Our story is your story.

Okay, it’s 4:17.  It takes about 20 minutes to get to the Purolator office.  Maybe I should get organized, get goin’, get Jody’s books!

Oh my.

Bookish Moments

11:30 am today

I got home from a chiropractic appointment to find a rectangular object wrapped in corrugated cardboard sitting on the dining room table.  My friend Neal had received it from a UPS delivery guy.  The proof of Jody’s book has arrived.  And I ran away … to the next room.  “First, I need to write a blog post about last night’s Bryan Adams concert.”  As I started tapping the keys, fear descended in the moments between the writing.  “What if it doesn’t look good?  Jody’s photo on the front cover and the painting of the tree on the back – what if they’re blurry?  What if the print on the back of the page shows through the one I’m looking at?  What if the blacks aren’t really black?  What if there are typos?  Arghh!”

1:00 pm

The post about Bryan Adams is done and published.  I like it.  What to do now?  Well, stay out of the dining room.  It’s too scary to open the package and really look.  Have some lunch.  Read the paper.  So I did.  And the hot tub repair guy is coming at 2:00.  Have to talk to him.

2:15 pm

Hadn’t you better start the post about Jody’s book, Bruce?  Okay, I’ll do that.  So I’ve just written what you see above.  And discussed tub problems.

2:38 pm

My repair friend just left.  I’ve brought the cardboard rectangle to my man chair, accompanied by an Exacto knife.  Okay, that’s progress.  Shouldn’t you read what’s on the outside?  Yes, of course.  It says that the book itself only weighs one pound.  Shouldn’t it be more?  And the box looks pretty skinny.  It was supposed to be 193 pages.  The whole thing feels pretty light.  (Sigh)

Oh my goodness, I just started taking the plastic cover off the cardboard.  Then I stopped.  C’mon, Bruce.  Get the plastic off.  (Doing so)  All right.  I’ve removed a pouch with folded sheets of paper inside – “Shipping Documentation”.  Better read that.  (Reading)

Oh, look.  Blurb sent it “UPS Expedited”, as in fast.  It was shipped from Pennsylvania on February 23, and it’s here with me on February 25.  Awesomely fast.  Okay, that’s enough reading .. of the sheets, I mean.  (Sigh)

2:50 pm

(Box in hand)  Open it, Bruce!   But just peek at the front cover.  (Opening)  Oh my God!  First view is of the white spine, with black print.  It says “Jodiette:  My Lovely Wife” on the left end, and “Bruce Kerr” on the right.  That’s me!  Breathe, Bruce, breathe.  (Opening the cardboard flaps)

2:55 pm

Jody’s eyes!  So beautiful.  Looking deeply into mine, and into those of future readers.  Oh, loved wife … you’re so pretty.  (Crying)  The photo isn’t quite as sharp as I would have liked it, but such are the limits of jpeg files, I guess.  My wife shines.  Ah … the front cover is gorgeous.

And the back?  (Flip)  Oh my God again.  Kym Brundritt’s painting of a “Cosmic Tree” just glows.  It fills the space with love.  But … its background is orange, without the vibrant yellow of the original.  Maybe Blurb can shift the colour.  But even if they can’t, it’s lovely.  Thank you, Kym.

3:08 pm

Off to the Blurb website to see the photo of the painting that I submitted.  It has more yellow than orange.  I’ll keep my toes crossed that this can be fixed.  Still afraid to look at the print on the pages … Go for it, guy!  Okay.

Oh, the blacks are beautifully black.  And the Constantia font looks so good.  The white paper isn’t as thick as I’d hoped, so I can see the print on the back of each sheet some.  But that’s okay.  It’s only a bit distracting.  Oh, Jody.  It’s our book and it’s great!  Oh, loved one.  May our story reach waiting eyes.

And now I’m going to read the entire book, to see if there are any glitches.  It’s 3:23.  See you later.

7:30 pm

Well, I didn’t read the whole book.  After all, I had proofread it twice before uploading it, so I know we’re good with spelling and grammar.  I did repeat a title from one page to the next, so Blurbites can fix that.  Also, the print is nicely level at the top of each page but a bit tilted at the bottom.  Go, Blurb, go.

I went out to supper at Braxton’s, a St. Thomas roadhouse, and showed Jody’s book to Leslie, a friend of mine who’s a server there.  She liked it.  Thought the covers were awesome.  Thanks, Leslie.

I read some of the entries before my meal and after.  The book was becoming comfy in my hands, rather than the suspected bomb I worried about when it arrived.  An old friend.  Jody talking to me.  Oh, my dear.  It’s you and me, loved one.

What a precious volume I hold.  May it reach far into people’s lives.