The Signing. (And it wasn't at the Overlook...)

My stomach was churning as we walked into the Shaw Public Library.  The old library, the building that still stands across the street, is where I spent many a rainy Saturday. I hung out in the children’s section reading Nancy Drew books while sprawled on the carpet. Now I was in a brand new building across the street, next to the river on the very spot where our old middle school stood. 

I stood at the entrance and could hear the sounds of my youth whispering in my ear reminding me of innocence and youthful expectation.  The spell was broken as Ray took my hand and led me to the counter.  We introduced ourselves to the two male library volunteers.  One of them then pointed to the area across the room where I would be speaking and we made our way over. I stood at the podium and jokingly said that they probably had too many chairs out and I hoped that at least one row would be filled! I counted them and wondered if any of the other special guests had filled 24 chairs?

Ray and I looked out the window at the beautiful view of the river and I felt an odd sense of calm come over me.  “You know,” I said more to myself than to him, “Just being here in this library doing my own book signing is such an accomplishment. I can’t possibly be disappointed by anything. I am proud of myself, and anything else will be just extra.”

He smiled. “You’re right, baby.  But it will be great, I just have a feeling.”

We set up the book table, spoke with the librarians, sat in a comfortable couch and waited.  

The first guests to arrive were my friends who so graciously accepted my request (it might have been begging) to bake cookies. Elaine baked dozens of incredible cookies that we jokingly said we would gorge on for days if no one showed up.  My great friends Sheila and Patti arrived (from, um, Oregon) with another batch to add to the table. At this point the doors to library were opening every few minutes as I watched old friends trickle in one after another. I hugged each one feeling a bit like a Wal-Mart greeter, and was just smiling in surprise with each passing moment.  

Then I saw them.   

My aunts (five in all) and an uncle walked in smiling.  I hugged them all, laughing and almost crying with each one. I wasn’t sure who was going to be out of town, or who had gotten the message that I was going to be there.  But here they were.  Some of them had brought a daughter or two, and I was incredibly touched that they were all here and excited.

Before I knew it, the librarian was setting up more chairs, adding several more rows to the room.  A packed house!

I stood in front of the group and began my speech.  After the first sentence I was in my comfort zone.  I was sharing my story in front of a gathering of folks that I loved.  I glanced at each one as I shared one story after another and saw smiles and heard peals of laughter.  I could feel their love and it lifted me beyond measure.  I saw my awesome brother and sister-in-law, my mother’s sisters, her brother, some amazing cousins, the many classmates I spent my youth with, my middle school principal, more teachers from Oregon (!), the parents of several classmates, my old cheerleading coach and great friend, the leader of my junior high Methodist youth group, and several other folks that were related to my brother-in-law.  

And then I saw Ray.

He lifted his hand and wiped a tear.  He mustered a huge smile and flashed me a thumbs up. That was when I knew.

I knew in that moment that this was a night I would never forget.  This was the night when, surrounded by a sea of love, I made my mother and father very, very proud.



Sheila said...

You didn't have to write a book for them to be proud of you...

noexcuses said...

Thanks for sharing such a special night! I felt like I was there with you! I am so happy for you. Best wishes for your success with "Frank!"

quiltmom anna said...

You did it again Debbie- I have got to start keeping a tissue at my computer so I am prepared when I read your posts.. So happy to hear that people came out to celebrate your book- You are a talented woman - gifted writer and teacher but most of all well loved by family and friends.. Life's gifts have no bounds - wishing you a fabulous summer..
Warmest regards,

Gigi said...

I just knew it was going to be great! Congrats.

Mrs. E said...

And then I wiped a tear, too! Congrats!(I have a hunch your parents would be proud with or without this book.)

Far Side of Fifty said...

Good for you!! Everyone is proud! :)

ChiTown Girl said...

Oh, sweetpea, I'm SO stinkin' happy for you.

Thanks for making me cry, you jerk! >:(


#1Nana said...

Congratulations! God knows you've spent your time down in the valleys, it great to see you've climbed to the peak. I hope you are enjoying the view.