When people say life is stranger than fiction, they're right by half. Life is strange, but so is the best fiction. Dedicated book people enjoy both worlds.
You can see it when you meet them.
By any measure, Saturday's USO benefit and book signing at "A Cup of Cold Water" was a smashing success. But what really put it over the top were the people.
*There was a woman named Claudette, a church librarian, who loves her job except when space requires the removal of some old books. Claudette gets so upset she has to call her husband. He comes and takes them off the shelves. "I can't bear to watch," she said, as if witnessing executions.
* Donna, an artist wearing a dashing chapeau, stopped by on her way to pick up some missionaries from India. Donna had never met the missionaries but heard they needed a place to stay. Ten years ago, Donna heard about a girl who was driving along when a tree fell on her car. The limbs crashed through the windshield, impaling her head. Donna didn't know the girl, who was 16 and brilliant and headed to early admission at college, but Donna started praying. The girl slipped into a deep coma. Several months later, she woke up with an empty mind; she didn't remember her own mother. Today, ten years later, that same girl has published a book and home schools four bright children. Of course, all that happened after she married Donna's son, who didn't know her until this terrible accident happened. And best of all: That girl became a Christian.
* A family of five drove all the way from Centralia to this little bookstore. They were one of those families where you could feel love flowing around them. The parents brought their 11-year-old daughter because she wants to be a writer. She was the sweetest girl, with great intuitive gifts, and she humbled me.
On it went throughout the day, tender and funny folks coming through the door of this little book store. Moms of Marine soldiers, football moms, a Libertarian gadfly and his red-headed girlfriend and a boy deeply damaged at birth and his glowing mother who loved him to his core.
The bookstore’s owner, LouAnn Miller, welcomed them all as though they were coming home.
In fact, the place was so welcoming that my son asked me, "Where's her bed?"
"Excuse me?" I said.
"The owner. Doesn't she live here?"
Her highly-trained unpaid assistant with the great sense of humor brought coffee and pastry and took pictures and asked people to write Bible verses in a small book for a young girl facing difficult surgery. The book would be something she could read in the hospital to encourage her good fight. Nobody knew the girl; everybody wrote to her.
This is the thing about book people: They're interesting. The people walking into this store live on the faithful edge, trusting in something other than themselves. They trust in words and the remarkable story of life. Most importantly, the trust The Word.
While I can understand the attraction of a Kindle, I can’t imagine life without bookstores like “A Cup of Cold Water” and the people they attract.
If you know about a book store like this, tell me about it.
Maybe we can start a fan club.
Coming next: The trip home from “A Cup of Cold Water” when my husband’s car gets hit.
(Believe me: You don’t want to miss any Tales of the Italian Stallion.)