Jim would have turned 61 today. And, I can't tell you how much it means to me that so many of you gave books to libraries in his memory. There will be books in Jim's memory in Alaska, England, Ireland, Florida, Utah, Texas, and small towns all over the country, especially Ohio, and, of course, in the Glendale Library System, where I work. So many of you gave money to my library that I've been able to order books Jim would have appreciated - books on baseball, thrillers, history, biographies, and physics. I ordered four books by Life that should be beautiful, on subjects such as Benjamin Franklin, and American history.
But, I wanted to tell you about one I discovered that was so special that I used some of the money to buy copies for every library in our system, in Jim's memory. It's a book that helped me get through the last two months. I read a few essays, then put it down. But, it means so much to me. Regina Brett's God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours was the book I needed. And, Tuesday is release date for the book.
Before I tell you about the book, let me tell you about Regina Brett. Brett was born in Ravenna, Ohio in 1956. Ravenna is in Portage County, neighboring Mahoning County, where I was born in 1957. Regina Brett and I were at Kent State Unviversity at the same time. I never knew her, and she quit school when she became pregnant, but it seems so odd that someone with that similar beginning has written a book that means so much to me.
When I turned fifty, Jim threw a surprise party I will never forget, bringing in my family without tellng me, and secretly working with my staff. When Regina Brett turned fifty, she wrote a newspaper column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer about fifty lessons life had taught her. Her lessons came from her life as a single parent, working on her problems with her relationship with God, battling cancer, and her difficult childhood as one of eleven children. The column went viral, appearing in church bulletins, newsletters, and small-town newspapers. That popular column became the book, God Never Blinks, with Brett's soul-searching essays.
If you haven't read the book, Brett's lessons sound like platitudes. There are titles such as, "Life isn't fair, but it's still good." That one hit my heart. How about "Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does." There's the lesson, "All that truly matters in the end is that you loved." And, perhaps, Brett's most important message is, "No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up for life." These stories are honest, and heartfelt. They touched me, moved me, and made me cry at times. I haven't argued with God about Jim's death. I didn't need Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
I needed the lessons of Regina Brett's God Never Blinks. For Jim's birthday, I wanted to share this book with you. And, it may be an important book to share with others who are going through hard times. Life goes on. It was my mother who said, "Life will be different. It will never be the same. It can be just as good, but it will be different." These are two wise women from Ohio, my mother, and Regina Brett, with lessons to help people keep on living.
Regina Brett's website is www.reginabrett.com
God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours by Regina Brett. Grand Central Publishing, ©2010. ISBN 9780446556521 (hardcover), 241p.
FTC Full Disclosure - My review copy was an ARC I picked up at our Main Library, where it had been sent for librarians to preview.