Friday, January 25, 2008

More Than a Book Club

It’s been said that you never really know how much you need something until you know longer have it. What’s true about essentials such as eyesight or dependable transportation can also be said about a certain book club I started several years ago.

Just over two years ago I moved and had to say a tearful farewell to a group of women that I’ve grown to love and admire over the years.

Together we read thousands of pages—everything from lighthearted fiction to meatier tomes of history and saga. Books that were required reading from high school (that we never really read) were picked up again and discussed with the wisdom of years behind us. Surprisingly, we discovered a fondness for historical fiction and had several selections that found us divided in opinion and favor.

Not only did we meet to discuss books, but did we eat! My recipe box is stuffed with notes and recipes of wonderful dishes and desserts that will forever remind me of my friends and their warm kitchens.

But besides a love of reading and socializing, we created friendships that forever changed us. Through the years we saw each other through moves and miscarriages, the births of babies and the deaths of family members. The tragic stillbirth of Sonya’s baby, Tessa, touched us all. Sonya’s quiet courage and faith spoke volumes and taught us all as mothers to treasure our children’s lives every day.

Each member of book club brought her own personality and opinions to each meeting. Besides being mothers, each had a background that helped us all learn and grow. There was Cinnamon, a college biology professor. She was the one we could count on to explain the science behind anything we discussed. Trisha, an attorney, would set us straight about the legalities of a topic. School teachers Elyse and Jennifer and Lisa would give professional opinions about education issues that arose. But not only did all these women provide professional insight, at the heart of our group was a blend of personalities that kept each gathering an occasion to cherish.

After attending my last book club meeting, I received an email from a member, Millie, who wrote to me about what attending our group has meant to her. In part it read: “This group played a big part in helping me fit in here. It was very hard giving up my job and everything else I had in Toronto to come somewhere where we knew nobody, all for my husband's work. He got right into work and met people and was doing something people respected him for, the kids went to school and made friends, and I stayed home unpacking and trying to put the house together even though I was 8 1/2 months pregnant. Needless to say, I didn't get out much except to do the grocery shopping and take everyone where they had to go. So when book club came up and I met all of you, I knew I had found something just for me and that I DESERVED IT!!!”

Don’t we all deserve to find some place where we are accepted for who we are? A place where our opinions matter and our lives are enriched? As I unpacked boxes in my new home and placed my books on the shelves of my office, each book that I read and discussed with my friends holds a special place in my heart. I know I am a better person for having been a part of such a wonderful, diverse group of women. I hope they feel the same.

(Terri, Traci, Trisha, Jennifer, me and Sonya holding my daughter on a girls' weekend to Nashville--several years ago)


Terri said...

After watching the two neighbor boys and having my own kids home early from school today I would do anything to be able to go to book club tonight. Thanks for posting the pictures. They brought back many good memories.

Joan Mora said...

What a nice tribute! And great pics.

Wila said...

I loved your comments about the book club. I missed being a member by such a short time but know several of the members and remember what wonderful people they are. Finally settling in after another move, I hope to find the group I fit into very soon. Having just bought Girl Scout cookies tonight I am reminded "Make new friends but keep the old. Some are silver the other's gold." (I wasn't talking hair color but I guess it can apply.)

Leanna Rolla said...

I loved your blog about book club. Although I was a Johnny come lately to the club you all welcomed me in with open arms and I appreciated that. Because of the club I read books that I probably wouldn't have chosen to read and I am thankful for that because I would have missed out on some wonderful literature. I loved our discussions about the books, the food, but mostly the friendships that I have made. Although we do not get together for book club any longer I still read every chance I get. We are going to have to find a way to have an online book club :) Keep up the good work on the Blog. Lovin' it. Miss you!

pamela hammonds said...

Miss you too, Leanna! I should mention that Leanna is a professional photographer and should be given credit for the black and white photo of book club. (She is front row, center in the dark vest.) You are so right about the books taking second place to the friendships that will withstand the test of time. Cannot place a value on that!

Lucinda said...

As a member of a local book club here in Decatur, Alabama, this entry was particulary poignant! We are about to lose one of our charter members to the great state of Virginia. We are so very sad to see her go, but your comments about placing the books we've read on her bookshelves made me feel just a wee bit better.

Nancy said...

Don’t we all deserve to find some place where we are accepted for who we are? A place where our opinions matter and our lives are enriched?

These two sentences are standing up out of the pixels and speaking to me.