Remember when I said that last week was 2 much? Little did I know, how true that was. I had not yet read Bryan’s Nickels and Sense column. My heart broke when I read about the passing of my “library boyfriend”, Don Smith.
He never knew about my nickname for him. It all started with my husband asking where I had gotten the beautiful rose I brought home. I thought it would be more fun to tease him with the reply, “My library boyfriend gave it to me,” and that private nickname just stuck.
Bryan dedicated his column to Don, David Wood wrote a great letter to the editor for Don, and here I am continuing with a bookworm for my Library Boyfriend. a.k.a, Don, a.k.a, Average American.
When I came in this morning, I pulled out various personal notes I have received over the years at the library, searching for everything from Don. There were letters dated before 2018, but when I got sick that year, his role in my life became more personal. Don’t get me wrong, his words of encouragement and reassurance that I made a difference (pre and post sickness) were uplifting, but he reached out to me at my most vulnerable and for that I will never forget him.
Don had the Versailles Greenhouse create a one-of-a-kind gift for me. It hangs in my office, a hat with 6 different literary quotes attached like small books to the brim. These quotes were specific to the struggles I was going through during my battle with cancer. Don lost his beloved wife only 2 years before I got sick, she had been sick too. He got it, bless his heart, he knew what my husband and I were going through in a very personal way.
Last Friday I heard of his passing, when I arrived to work on Monday, I was met by a collection of donated books. Yep, books from his personal collection (To reassure to me that he was a reader, Don gifted me a figurine of a man reading, it sits beside me in my office). I spent time looking through each box, feeling like I was getting one last personal moment with him. His collection was very diverse and so unique, books, that when I saw them made me smile (he was a character) and books that made me cry (books about grief).
Almost a year ago to the day, I received a rose, ice cream, brownies, and a print out of a winky face, Don’s reply to a bookworm. He was always sharing gifts and words that let me know I made a difference, “I enjoy your Library Bookworm columns…your column itself undercuts your refreshing and endearing modesty…what you and your crew do is appreciated…just wanted to make you smile…you matter to our town.” The beauty of this man was that I was not the only person he reached out to. For a man that lived here for only a short time, he blessed our community and its members in ways that will forever affect us. Like Bryan and David mentioned, Don was nowhere close to an “Average” American, and, yes, he made a difference.
Don’s friend, Dan, came to visit with us and to share part of his friend’s penguin collection (other members of the community received part of this collection too). I might have cried trying to express how much he met to me. This morning I commented that I still just need to have a big ol’ cry about him. When I went to look at the hat he gave me, I noticed one of the quotes had fallen behind my desk. “We need never be ashamed of our tears.” Great Expectations – Charles Dickens. Dang it, he is still lifting me up.
Don, you often said, no response needed, well, we all appear to differ with that sentiment. Thank you, Don. Thank you for being my library boyfriend. Thank you for being a friend to us all. That figurine in my office will always remind me of you, it and the little penguins beside it.
Upcoming Events: 3/9 Story Time at 10am, 3/10 Homeschool Activity at 1:30pm, 3/12 LEGO Play at 10:30am, 3/12 Board Strategic Planning at 9am, Junior Duck Stamp Display 3/8 – 3/16. Little House Reading Challenge has started, stop by the library for the 1st book.