Thanksgiving Day in the USA.
Grateful for friends who listen & hug, laugh and celebrate.
We’ve been known to open a bottle of wine.
Things that really happen at our book club? Sharing ideas, challenging our own view of the world, listening to each other’s stories–the struggles, the celebrations and everything in between, laughing that kind of wet-your-pants, tears-streaming-from-your-eyes, can’t-stand-up laughter, and crying when no words are needed – only hugs, and bonds of friendship begin to take hold.
Oh yes, and we eat.
All this doesn’t happen in one night, but over time.
Except for the eating part. That part happens each time.
I was in a book club and even after moving across the country, joined that group on a trip to celebrate our 100th book. Oprah started a wonderful trend both in getting people to read and in creating a special gathering to share thoughts. After I moved, I missed my girlfriends and book group and started to ask people I met about book clubs…”are you in one?” The responses I heard were across the board–some groups had a waiting list for entry (I was amazed), one woman told me she gets stressed-out a week prior to her meeting – each member was required to write a book report and present it to the group (no…no, thank you). Many groups limited their selections to one genre – historical fiction is very popular.
I was on my own — until I wasn’t. I met some interesting women and invited them. The requirements: you must be smart, fun and like to read. Pretty simple. Any one of us could invite others…most of us kept coming back. We share hosting in our homes and everyone brings “something small to nibble on” (but that’s it’s own story). And there’s wine.
Over the years the confines of book group expanded from just once a month to gathering as friends. We’ve celebrated graduations (not only the kids’), art shows, holiday sweaters, teen agers doing well and the home team winning it all. We’ve shared in sympathy the struggles of losing a parent. Together we learned new things like how thrilling it is to launch a potato into a crisp Fall evening, that watching a baseball game played in football weather can create lasting memories and that when magic happens on ice we share “good curling” and celebrate with the opponent.
Book club isn’t really about the books for me.
It’s about people who touch my soul and make me a better person.
I honor and celebrate one of those special people today. Ali came to book club highly recommended (and rightfully so!) with a wonderful sense of humor and a Scottish accent which made everything she said even more endearing. One Valentine’s Day, Ali shared with us her love and expertise of curling, coaching us onto (and off of) the ice. Her enthusiasm for hunting down the perfect prop for a high school drama performance was contagious. She helped us all learn a little more when she studied for and passed her USA citizenship test. Every time I color my hair at home I hear her voice in her beautiful accent, “you’re doing yourself a box job“. It always brings a smile to my face, and yet, a tug on my heart. Ali would smile all the time which just made her even more beautiful as a woman.
One year ago tonight we gathered again at book club. Everyone intuitively brought chocolate. Our hugs were longer, tears flowing gently. I have no idea what the book was. It didn’t matter. We were all numb. Ali’s struggle ended in the early morning hours, one year ago today.
Our book club gathered at her funeral. There were no words.
It wasn’t about the books.
Today I will celebrate all the good things that Ali brought into my world as I mourn the loss of a beautiful person. I will remember the happiness she brought wherever she went. I will remind her children of how much she talked about them and how proud she is of each of them as they find their way in the world. I know they miss her and I can’t imagine the void. For her husband, we will be there to share memories and try to help fill the empty day.
Good Curling, Ali~