Yesterday I had the privilege of having a book signing at the Family Christian Store in Austin. The folks at the bookstore couldn’t have been more welcoming or gracious. In addition, it provided me an opportunity to engage in conversation with several people. I liked hearing their stories.
One of the observations I made is that most people who came in the store knew exactly what they were looking for and their focus never altered from initial intent. A table was set up for me on the left of the door when you entered the store. Once entering, there was a display located in the center. Customers had to negotiate getting around the display by either going to the right or to the left. I found it interesting that most people opted to go to the right without as much as glancing in my direction. Who could blame them? I was obviously an old guy there with the intent of peddling books.
When I shop, I don’t want to be bothered by sales people unless I have a question, can’t find what I’m looking for or want to check out. I like taking my time, not being disturbed by an eager salesman and the absence of pressure to purchase something. That’s one of the things I like about the Apple store, you can look forever and not be bothered. The folks who work there have more than enough to do. Consequently, you generally have to flag a sales person down to get a question answered.
While the vast majority of people who entered the Family Christian Store yesterday never glanced my direction while entering or exiting, a few folks did. In fact, the first lady who purchased a book did so a few minutes after I arrived. She was already in the bookstore and as she was exiting, I offered her a bookmark. She looked at the bookmark and then at the table displaying my books. She walked over to the table, picked up one of the books, turned to me and said, “Tell me about your book.”
After my brief description, she said she wanted a copy as a gift for her father-in-law. She added, “He is about the same age as you and from what you’ve told me, I think he’ll enjoy the book. I sense the two of you are a lot alike. He too, likes finding the adventure in the midst of the ordinary.” The affirmation felt good. It was also nice to sell a book.
I also subsequently enjoyed visiting with a lady who clearly had come to the store in hopes of purchasing a Nativity set on sell after Christmas. Of course, I didn’t know that when I first saw her. I didn’t notice her because she walked into the store, turned to the right, didn’t look my direction and disappeared like almost everyone else. I noticed her because she had a small dog with her on a leash. I thought that was a little strange. We never take Barnabas shopping.
I also noticed her because once she made her way back to the front of the store, she looked my direction and called to me from the other side of the store. She asked if I would help her. She had a question concerning the “clear crystal nativity set”. She wanted to know if it was on sale.
I explained that I was not a store employee, so she looked elsewhere for help. I subsequently overheard her conversation with the clerk. Apparently, she was calculating the discount both out loud and in her head. I was amused with her math. From what I could overhear, by the time she finished her calculations, the store would owe her money to take the Nativity set. The sales clerk then brought the lady my direction. The Willow Tree Collection was located on the side of the store where my table was located. It, too, was not on sale, but the lady was quite taken with it. I joined in the conversation. I told her the Willow Tree was a good choice.
She moved from Nativity sets to asking about my books. When I told her BITTER OR BETTER was an overview of the grief process, she said: “I know all about grief. I’ve lived it.” Without the need for encouragement to share more, she added: “My dad was getting to the place that he really needed to go into a nursing home. He and my mom had friends over for dinner. After his Martini, dad sat down to play the piano and had a stroke. He died a few days later.” Without pausing she added, “It was hard for me to lose him, but what a way to go! Think of it: A Martini, music and friends for dinner. When my time comes, I hope I go just like that”.
She then chronicled the details of her mother’s death. Her mother was hospitalized, needed to be fed through a stomach tube and opted to decline. She told her mother, “You’ll die if you don’t do this.” Her mom said, “She wasn’t afraid to die and she was ready.” The lady looked at me and said, “Well, if that’s the way she wanted to be, it was okay with me.”
The lady’s countenance changed when she shared the details of her husband’s death. He died from lung cancer at the age of forty-four. She said, “His death really hit me hard. It was tough on our children as well”. She said: “A nurse from hospice was at our home when my husband died. Later I overheard the nurse telling the doctor the time of his death. I interrupted her and said: ‘No. No. That grandfather clock hasn’t be wound in months. It isn’t running.” The nurse replied, ‘The time of death that I shared is correct. I noted the time from my watch not the grandfather clock.’ She looked at me and said, “Can you believe it. He died the same time as the time displayed on the grandfather clock. I responded, “I can believe it. I know of another story where the very same thing happened.”
Shortly before I left the bookstore, I had an opportunity to visit with a lady named Susan. She was a ray of sunshine. She said, “Tell me about your book.” We visited for a few minutes and I suggested, “I always read three pages of a book before I buy it. I know within three pages whether it is a book I can’t put down.” She said, “I don’t need to read three pages. I already know from talking with you that I want your book.” Wow! That was a great way to affirm and massage my ego.
Susan purchased the book as a gift for her father for his birthday. I initially thought she wanted the Bitter or Better book. She mentioned that her father lost his brother early in his life. His brother was sixteen at the time of his death. Her dad was three years younger. Instead, she opted to purchase “More Than Enough”.
Susan mentioned that one day she hopes to write a book, but it is all in God’s timing. She is an artist and she’s been through a lot. After several surgeries at the Mayo Clinic, she’s doing great. God has promoted her healing and she has lots of stories to share regarding the journey. Susan was absolutely delightful. I hope she gets her book written. She has a story that needs to be shared.
All My Best!