If I really knew the song “People Who Need People,” I’d be humming it right now. However, I only know that the song goes on to say “…are the luckiest people.” And the reason I’m thinking of this song is Pam.
And I don’t really know Pam, either, but in a funny way, I feel I know something about her heart. At the booksigning at the RT Booklover’s Convention, I found myself seated near the amazing and legendary Mary Balogh, whose books I have loved and even studied. I came into the signing with plenty of hopes and goals–meet readers! Hand out magnets and postcards! Sell books! But when I saw Mary Balogh’s name card on the table to my left, something told me to slow down and savor what being here at this signing meant.
I’m so glad I did, because otherwise I might have missed Pam. She was in Mary’s line (Mary Balogh had a l-i-i-i-i-i-ne, you see. Me, not so much!), and in one of my take-a-deep-breath-and-be-here-now moments, I saw her say a few words to Mary and give her a present, a handkerchief embroidered with Proverbs 3:5–6 (“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.”):
I got teary, seeing the beautiful craftsmanship of the embroidery and the heartfelt spirit in which Pam offered that gift. I knew her in that moment, trying to express to an author what her books have meant to you, wanting to give back some part of the joy and meaning the stories gave to you.
Pam and I chatted for a few minutes afterwards, and she moved on. Mary Balogh’s huge stack of books disappeared quickly, but she graciously remained at her table to sign bookmarks (which are wonderfully British, as you can see here). My little stack of books got smaller in a more gradual way, and I was feeling braver about talking to “strangers”–not my natural bent, but everyone was so excited and kind, it felt that way. Then, at one point, I glanced up, and saw Pam again.
She’d brought me a handkerchief. She had gone all the way to her car and back to bring me a lovingly-crafted gift and to wish me well with my writing.
My first reaction was to refuse. Because, you know, I don’t deserve this gift. I haven’t earned Pam’s regard the way Mary Balogh has; I can’t think that I ever will. But Pam wanted me to have it, and so I took home this reminder of grace and of trust, and of the reason to write from my heart.
I was so overwhelmed I forgot to get Pam’s contact information so I could thank her properly. I hope our paths cross again sometime. For now, I’ll have to say thank you from here. I will treasure it always, Pam, not just for its beauty, but because it took only a second or two in your presence to know the loving spirit behind its creation.
Writers who meet readers–we’re not just lucky. We are blessed.