Monday, September 12, 2011

In the Flood

"Are you still in the flooded house waiting for looters?" I texted my brother John.
"I'm standing here at the ready," he texted back.
"Have you seen any looters?" I asked.
"Nope, now I am looting. Got my eyes on some sweet Stakmore chairs."
"Mom and Dad are wondering if Jenny and Anthony and Callie will be coming to live with them, while you loot. They haven't been able to get a hold of you."
Silence.
A few minutes later, my phone beeped as his text came in.
"Snagged the Stakmore chairs! Google them- really nice! I love floods."
I did pause to google the Stakmore chairs. They are made in Owego, my brother's flooded town. I don't know if the factory flooded or not. They are folding chairs but look like fancy sturdy chairs.
"Nice," I texted, "Especially the Queen Anne ones."
"Snagged one Queen Anne," he texted.
"Are you stealing from your neighbors?"
"No, they put them out with the garbage. Idiots."
"Well if they are wood, they might be ruined by the flood. Maybe they are warped."
"No, they are in perfect condition. $$$$$"
"See any queen futons?"
"Yeh, I can get you one of those..."
"So back to the folks....will you all be living with them? Where is your family?"
"Jenny and Anthony will be going there from our friend's house tomorrow. Me and Callie (the dog) will be looting."
He sent  a photo to my phone then. It was titled: "Defending against looters."
"What's this, John?" I asked, "It looks like a fire."
"It is the fire pit on my back deck. I am defending against looters."
"Ah, and do you also have a 6 pack of beer to help you defending against looters?"
"Yes! How did you guess?"
"John...I am not sure you are taking this flood with the proper degree of seriousness..."

But really, I am glad to see his sense of humor wasn't flooded out of him too. As long as he can keep laughing, he will be fine. Meanwhile, as John was defending against looters (and/or looting himself), I took Honeybun and Asherel and off we marched to my very first book signing. We arrived a half hour early, and within a few minutes, a customer walked in. She was an animal lover and as we chatted, she picked up my book.

"I have to read this then!" she said, and had me sign my first copy.

Over the next three hours, a steady stream of people came by. Many wonderful friends showed up, but I also signed books for many strangers. All the children raced over to Honeybun and I showed them how to ask her to shake hands with them. I had them put a treat in their closed fist, and then tell her shake. The once starving dog would then paw at the fist.
"That's as close as it gets," I warned the kids who felt that was not much like a real hand shake.
This was a skill newly developed just for the book signing and she was not consistent. However,  by the end of the book signing, Honeybun was eagerly shaking with every one who walked in the store.

One lady told me about their dog, who was always off visiting other homes, escaping every fence they tried to keep her in. And then, she escaped and was gone for a year. They had given up hope of ever seeing her again, and a year later, she was back. She acted as though she had never left.

Another lady had me sign two books, one for each grandson.
"Do they have dogs?" I asked.
"No, but they want one. Their mom won't let them have one. Hey...how about if you sign to their mom too? Maybe it will convince her..."
"I hope so," I said, laughing.

"This is riveting," said one friend, flipping through my first chapter. I glanced up.
"I have never read a book," he said.
"He doesn't read," said his wife. We all looked at them.
"Well, I mean, he does read...he knows how to read..., " she explained, "He just never sits and reads a whole book."
"But you'll read this one, right Denny?" I asked.

"I heard Brandon ran a race!" I said to another friend. I hadn't seen Brandon in years, since he was just a little tyke diagnosed with autism.
"Yes," said my sweet friend, who had shadowed Brandon for years so he could successfully attend Sunday school, "And he did really well. He was invited to an invitational race, in fact, in South Carolina, he did so well. A coach runs alongside him. It is the first sport he has ever tried, and he is good."

And as they all filtered in and out, first a flood of them, and then a trickle, I thought of how many walking books there are in this world, how many wonderful stories, how many magnificent people. I was too busy trying to sign perfect and unique little snippets on each book to really talk to the friends that came in. I felt bad about that, but I am pretty sure they understood. I never had more than 2 or 3 waiting in a line at a time. It wasn't like the one book signing I went to, when President Jimmy Carter was signing in Charlotte. I didn't like Jimmy Carter, but knew my mom did, so I waited in line an hour to get a signed copy of his book for her. My book signing wasn't like that. But all Jimmy Carter did was scratch a near indecipherable signature when I handed him the book. He didn't even look up at me. I never want to sign books that way.

After the remarkable, momentous day, we settled down to dinner, and Comer, my old senior friend from the nursing home called.
"Vicky!" he said, "How did the book signing go?"
I was shocked he remembered it, or even knew about it. I hadn't seen him in two weeks, as he had forgotten our scheduled meeting last week and gone off on a field trip with the other residents.
"I wanted to be there," he said, "Ken came for me and I was going out the door, and I don't know what came over me. Felt like passing out. They had to help me back to bed."
His speech sounded slurred.
"OH my," I said, "Are you feeling better now?"
"Yes, I just needed to rest," he said, "But I was mighty sorry to miss your book signing."
"Well it is so kind of you to even have thought of it," I said, "Thankyou. You rest up, and I will see you for lunch Thursday."
"I won't forget," he said.

Floods are on my mind, but I did indeed feel a flood of love encircling my world yesterday. The sweet daughter who helped me with Honeybun for three rather dull hours for her, the husband who came out near the end of the day to cheer me on, the friends who gave up a portion of their family day to show me encouragement and support, the brother who found laughter (and nice chairs!) in the midst of disaster, the old friend who sounded as though he may have had a small stroke and but for that would have walked with the labored cane tapping steps of a 93 year old man to come to this day that meant so much to me, the sisters and cousins, friends, and son who all asked eagerly how it was going, and how had it gone.

"What do you want me to write to you?" I asked one friend.
"I thought you would have that all planned out," she laughed.
"I want to write something special to everyone," I said, "Just the right thing."

But I just didn't have words to say what it all meant to me. What my family, my dog, my God, my friends, my world all mean to me. Floods are everywhere, and in my case, it really is a flood of joy.

Psalm 69: 1-6, 14-17, 30-36

 1 Save me, O God,
   for the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in the miry depths,
   where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
   the floods engulf me.
3 I am worn out calling for help;
   my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
   looking for my God.
4 Those who hate me without reason
   outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
   those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
   what I did not steal.
 5 You, God, know my folly;
   my guilt is not hidden from you.
 6 Lord, the LORD Almighty,
   may those who hope in you
   not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
   may those who seek you
   not be put to shame because of me.


 13 But I pray to you, LORD,
   in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
   answer me with your sure salvation.
14 Rescue me from the mire,
   do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
   from the deep waters.
15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
   or the depths swallow me up
   or the pit close its mouth over me.
 16 Answer me, LORD, out of the goodness of your love;
   in your great mercy turn to me.
17 Do not hide your face from your servant;
   answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.

 30 I will praise God’s name in song
   and glorify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the LORD more than an ox,
   more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
32 The poor will see and be glad—
   you who seek God, may your hearts live!
33 The LORD hears the needy
   and does not despise his captive people.
 34 Let heaven and earth praise him,
   the seas and all that move in them,
35 for God will save Zion
   and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;
 36 the children of his servants will inherit it,
   and those who love his name will dwell there.

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