I was honored to participate in World Book Night. World Book Night is a program that gives away thousands of free books on April 23, every year. You sign up at the World Book Night site and if you are picked, 20 books are sent to your local book store or library for you to pick up and distribute, at no cost to the giver. This was my first year and I had no clue as to what to expect. I was able to give away most of my copies of David Sedaris’ book, “Me Talk Pretty One Day” I set up at my local coffee shop, Rock Creek Roasters. Who doesn’t like coffee and books? I had my table set up with a sign, bookmarks, info about World Book Night and of course books. My friend, Trish, stopped by to keep me company. I gave out quite a few books, but these two stories really touched me and I wanted to share.
There was a gentleman sitting across from my table, who keep looking at the books and looking away. This went on for quite sometime. Finally, I walked over to him with a copy of the book and the info about WBN. I told him why I had the books and asked if he wanted one. His eyes lit up and he said to me, “I like Shakespeare.” That caught me off guard. I explained to him that today was Shakespeare’s birthday. He was just tickled by that. Then he reached into his backpack and showed me his dog eared copy of Shakespeare plays. He flipped open the pages and told me that ” I can’t read it so good because the print is small. My eyes are getting old and are not what they used to be.” I asked which story his favorite and he told me Hamlet. When he thumbed through the book I gave him, his eyes lit up. “I can see the words in this book. Nice big letters!!” He was very thankful. I’m going to be looking for a large print edition of Hamlet and will leave it at the coffee shop for him. I found out later that he is homeless and lives by the river.
A while later, my friend, Joel pointed out a couple of gentlemen outside. He suggested that I go meet their adorable golden retriever puppies. It was slow in the coffee shop, so why not? I’m always up to meeting new puppies. I’m so very glad that I did. Those two men made my day. In the short visit I had with them, I was more moved than I have been in quite a long time. I told them that Joel suggested I stop out to meet their fur kids. Their eyes lit up and they introduced me to their girls. The men were older, wearing flannel shirts, they had beards and blue eyes that just twinkled when they talked. I liked them from the word go!
I started talking to R. about the pups and the plans they had for the pups. Dog training so both men are disabled and they don’t need a dog to knock them down. Then R. started to tell me about how he was disabled. There was a mix up with some medication for him at the hospital and it caused him to have several strokes. The Doctors didn’t catch the mistake until he was already damaged. He is not bitter about it nor is he going to sue. As he said, “It is what it is.” He missed being able to do bead and wire work, he can’t do that with his hands anymore. As we talked his hands would leave his lap and just hover in the air for a bit and he worked to put them back on his lap. I explained about WBN and asked if the two of them would want a book. He replied, “Well ,I don’t read so good but M. can read.” He asked about which book I was giving out. He got excited when he realized that he knew of the author from NPR radio. M. was busy visiting with some other folks about the pups. R. was going to tell him to stop in and see me and get a book.
When M. was done visiting outside, he came into the coffee shop. He told me that R. told him to come in and talk to me about books. What he told me next just blew me away. I could have been done giving out books after talking to him. He explained that, “R. can’t read because of his dyslexia and he didn’t finish his schooling. I like to read him stories so that way he can enjoy them too.” Awwwww. I asked him how long he and R. had been together. He told me 36 years!! That is longer than most heterosexual marriages. They meet when R. was 16 and M. was 25. M. told me that he is an artist and he used to draw pictures of R. even before he met him. That when they finally met it really caught him off guard! It wasn’t all hearts and flowers but it has been a good life. They used to follow the negro’s to pick apples up north and they follow them back to Florida for the winter picking. They also got mixed up with a group of hobo’s and enjoyed that. As they got older they needed a place of their own. Hence they are now in Montana with their own home by the river. They both finally qualified for Social Security and M. gets a small check for being a Veteran. They live a simple life and have no desire to sue the hospital for what happened to R. He mentioned Karma and not messing with the Universe and things like that. All the while he was talking, his blue eyes were twinkling. He thanked me for the book and told me the he would see me again.
The interaction with those three men made my day and touched me quite a bit. I was touched that R and M shared their story with me.
Give away a book and who knows what you can get back in return. I got to meet some amazing men that touched me.