Published in the Rains County Leader on June 6, 2017:
When I first began writing a weekly column in the newspaper, I never thought about the collateral effects of opening at least some aspects of my private life to public scrutiny. I had been writing a blog for several years before becoming City Girl for the Rains County Leader. Although I occasionally received an on-line comment about something I had written, it was disconcerting the first few times someone I didn’t know asked me face to face how my garden was doing or what new antics Kitty had been up to.
It didn’t take me long, though, to begin to enjoy these brief encounters. One of the things I like most about being a writer is knowing when my words have touched someone, even if it’s only to make them smile or stop and think for a minute. It’s really nice to know that something I’ve said sticks in a reader’s mind long enough for them to engage me in conversation about it. In fact, it’s really nice to know that I have readers. Now that I’ve gotten used to it, I enjoy the impromptu conversations I have with friends I didn’t know I had.
A few weeks ago, I attended a meeting of the East Texas Library Friends Book Club. I first learned of the club earlier this year when they read the memoir I wrote about being a caregiver for my parents. I was invited to attend a meeting and talk a bit about writing and caregiving. Unfortunately, that was during the time when David and I were sharing a very persistent upper respiratory bug, so I missed the meeting. Once I could finally sit for a reasonable length of time without coughing, I contacted the club president for a reading list and have gone to the last two meetings as a reader rather than as an author.
At the most recent meeting, I met a woman who is beginning her own caregiving journey, and she wanted to talk to me about my book. The group always meets for lunch before the meeting, so she insisted that I sit by her so we could talk. As with any two people who have shared a common experience, there was an instant bond between us. She knew me because of what she had read, and I knew what she was going through because I’ve been there.
This past weekend, I had another unexpected encounter at a monthly breakfast David and I attend. Attendance was light due to the gully washer of a rain that was going on outside, and I was the only woman in our group of friends who had shown up. I was trying to keep up with the men’s conversation, but when David began discussing the current state of our 15-year-old car and the wide disparity in the cost of repair and replacement part estimates, my attention began to wander. I was delighted when a woman who I had seen before but had not really met approached me with a wide smile on her face.
“Are you the Kitty lady?” she asked.
I smiled back and admitted that I was. She sat down, and we had a wonderful conversation about our cats. She has one who is about half Kitty’s age and has been a great comfort to her since she lost a grandson late last year. We shared stories and laughed at the antics of our pets, and then a young man that I assume was another grandson pulled up a stool next to her and sat down.
He had a smile just like hers except that his revealed a complete set of braces. It was fun to watch the affectionate interaction between the two of them as they discussed his plans for the day and for later in the summer. They graciously included me in the conversation as he talked about leaving for camp near Waco in two weeks and for a mission trip to Seattle in six weeks. I thought about my own grandchildren, and I smiled all the way home thinking about how often we can find common bonds if we only take a few minutes to share.
So, if you see me somewhere around town, don’t hesitate to stop and say hello. I’d love to meet you – but don’t be surprised if you see yourself in a future column.