Monday, June 24, 2013


                                              Picture by Jill Gustafson

My friends are right. I am a perfectionist. I am still in the process of editing some words written many moons ago meanwhile still refining the online design of my first book.
 Changing certain words or phrases in my short tale has been an ongoing project. Thankfully, some of my friends have helped me progress. By telling me that my story would mostly attract an audience made of children, I understood my need for more editing, one more time.
I never intended to write for children only. But my imagination speaks for my writings. At first, I have little control of it. English words materialize in my mind forasmuch as I do understand them, correctly or not. Sometime I may use words with a European influence, which stems from my French-Belgium background. In any event, adults and seniors may enjoy reading my new book as well. Young at heart humans and animal lovers would be best.

While working again at a Northern California retirement home, I reconnected with Gloria, a longtime resident. I knew Gloria used to be a teacher, an English teacher. The senior retirement home accommodates various residents. Some have physical disabilities while many others suffered mentally. Nowadays, Gloria sits in a wheelchair and needs assistance with her physical life. Yet her brain is in perfect condition.
One early afternoon as I walked towards the entrance of the yellow building, I heard a familiar voice calling out to me.

“I haven’t seen you for two years,” Gloria said. “Are you back?”

“Yes, I am. Nice to see you again.”

“Nice to see you. What have you been up to?” the frail lady continued.

“I wrote a book,” I proudly announced.

“Show it to me,” she said enthusiastically, moving her long delicate hands into the air. 

“I don’t have my book with me today. But I will bring it with me next time I’m here.”

Our conversation abruptly ended, as a female caregiver approached ready to wheel Gloria into the dining-room of the Kisco residence. From now on, I must carry my book everywhere I go. You never know when an opportunity to share your writing may arise.

On my next working visit to the retirement home, Gloria was outside again, sitting in a shady area near the entrance. She saw me and waved me to approach.

“Where is your book?” she said.

“I have it right here with me,” I answered. “I have a few minutes before my shift starts. Do you have a minute?”

“Yes, I have time,” she acknowledged while looking at the cover page. “I like the picture and the title: ‘My Real Name is Lannah.’”

“I took the picture,” I added.

“Very nice picture,” she continued while opening the first page of my new online creation and project.

“Thank you,” I said.

“I can catch errors very well,” Gloria further explained. “Do you mind?”

“I don’t mind at all,” I happily interjected. “You are an omen coming from beyond, to help me.”

“I still read the paper you know. Look,” she said while pointing to a newspaper sitting on her lap.

“Yes, the Sunday newspaper,” I noted.

Silently rejoicing, I waited patiently for Gloria to read further. I stopped talking and sat on an empty bench while she slowly turned pages. “I hope she likes it,” I said to myself feeling angst rising. “I hope she likes it.” Breathing deeply three times, I tried to relax my emotional brain. “Everything is under control,” I told myself, “relax.” Here and there, the former teacher stopped and spotted words she believed were too sophisticated for children.

“These two words are too big together,” she explained. “You need to find some better ones.”

“How about: ‘I was playing in my giant backyard’ instead of ‘I was guarding my territories?’” I asked.

“Yes, that’s better.”

“Or? Let me think,” I continued while returning to silence.

“It is a very cute story,” Gloria commented when she finally turned the last page.

“I’ll show you a new version of my book, when it arrives. I’ve already made many changes you can’t see in this draft,” I further explained.

“I’ll be happy to read your new version. Find me.”

“I will.”

“The Giants are playing in San Francisco this afternoon,” the elderly lady announced. “I have to go.”

Gloria’s caregiver of the day eventually arrived and wheeled her to the game-room, where a very large television was about to broadcast a Giants game. Gloria is a sports lover, I reflected. Good for her. Too bad I don’t understand baseball very well. Too many numbers, letters, statistics and jargon in Baseball. I love the players’ outfits though, and the secret hand language some players use to communicate with other team members.

“Have a fun time,” I said. “Enjoy the game.”

“I will,” she retorted. “Come and see me again.”

“I will.”

Gloria left, and I remained on the outdoor bench for a few more minutes. I felt happy to be able to share my story, and to receive a positive response as well as encouraging suggestions. A sense of hope yet excitement filled me as I awaited the arrival of my new book.

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