That’s what I was when I dropped off my books at the Decatur Book Festival and asked about that evening’s event at the Emory Schwartz Center.
A woman behind the check-in table peered over her glasses at me. “The tickets for that event have been gone for weeks.”
I didn’t even know there were tickets. Evidently, area bookstores had given out the free tickets and being from out of town, I didn’t know.
While trudging back to the car, an idea came to me.
I told my friend Marni who had invited me to the festival, “Let’s just go over to Emory tonight and see if anyone has turned tickets in. Who knows?”
So, we had a plan. I felt better.
Except when we left her house that evening, we smelled gas which we at first tried to ignore, but then knew we had to call the gas company. We waited an hour. It turned out all right, but we were greatly delayed.
When we arrived at the venue close to the event hour, a crowd of folks surged in front of us all waving the requisite tickets. Will Call had no tickets, so our only option was talking to those who took the tickets at the door. Nothing.
“But wait here,” the woman in the festival tee shirt said. “Maybe we’ll get a couple.”
So we did as the minutes ticked by.
Then one ticket came in.
And finally at almost 8:00, another.
I could have skipped down the aisle. We took our seats for the program, which was a tribute to Pat Conroy.
Several notable authors made presentations including Pat Conroy’s wife and his daughter Cassandra and Melissa, James Dickey’s daughter, Bronwen, as well as Ron Rash.
But the person I had most wanted to see and hear for a very long time was Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Bragg.
And finally, after many years I did.
I’d thought a lot about what I might say to him and decided on this, “Rick Bragg, I love you and I love your writing, but I love your Mama more. She’s my hero.”
I reflected a bit about her extraordinary sacrificial love in this POST.
At first he seemed a little taken aback, and then laughed and said, “You and several other people feel that way.”
He told me they were writing a cookbook together and that she had not been very happy about the process. She never used a recipe, so I can’t wait to read it.
I said,“Make sure you tell your mama what a woman from Georgia said.”
He laughed and agreed.
When I cracked open my book back at home to see what he’d written, I read, “To Beverly . . . who gets it. Rick Bragg.”
Now, he may sign every other book that way, I don’t know. But the truth is, I do get it.
If it hadn’t been for a woman who didn’t buy a new dress for eighteen years so she could support her family, I don’t believe he’d been signing any books that evening, and we’d never had opportunity to hear what his brilliant mind produced.
If there’s a Mama’s Hall of Fame, no doubt that woman who loves Jesus is in it.
Now, the next person I want to meet is Mama Bragg. She might get so famous after the cookbook comes out, though, I’ll never have opportunity.
But I’m not too worried.
On some distant day in another place, I believe we’ll run into each other.
"No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him" (I Corinthians 2:9 The Message).