Tears and smiles

AT THE LIBRARY

The great philosopher, Dr. Seuss, said, “Do not cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” For the past few weeks I’ve tried to remember these immortal words because I am crying more than I am laughing.

About six years ago a wonderfully enthusiastic and very charming man bounded into my office. “Hi. I’m Brett Rogers,” he said and with a twinkle in his eye proceeded to tell me that he knew the library was having some financial difficulty. “I created a Facebook post and invited my whole class (LHS 1996) to contribute. I’m here to write you a check for $1,265.” Honestly, you could have bowled me over with a feather and I still don’t know if it’s because I didn’t realize Facebook could be used to raise funds; or if it was the confidence, mischief lurking under the surface and kindness the man exuded.

Less than a year after that initial meeting we had an unexpected board vacancy and invited Brett to join the library board. We have been so very fortunate to have had him on the board all this time; especially the last three years as our president.

Brett has been a delight to work with/for. We’ve learned so much from each other and recently I told him he was among the top three board presidents I’d worked with in my 35-plus years in Libraryland. Brett is the most terrific library advocate, tough when he needs to be, lighthearted but compelling in many situations, and always positive.

I’ve never seen a board president handle difficult situations with greater aplomb. He states the board’s position clearly and succinctly. Brett has been my knight-in-shining-armor, a staff supporter/protector and on many occasions provided a little comic relief when issues were tense. Lest you think this man is an unparalleled paragon of virtue, let me assure you, he is … well, most of the time.

There was that time when Brett told me his favorite childhood book was “Indian in the Cupboard” by Lynne Reid Banks. Oh dear. I almost hyperventilated. When I teach children’s literature this title is required reading for students to understand stereotypical characterization. The plot is intriguing when a magical medicine cabinet brings plastic toys (soldiers, cowboys and Indians) to life. Oh, never mind; this is fodder for a different article.

The president of library boards and the library director have a strange and wonderful relationship. Technically, Brett (and eight others) are my boss(es). Yet, to meet the mission and goals of the library the two need to operate symbiotically, utilizing their strengths together. Sometime in the past five years Brett and I became friends with a great working relationship so I’m crying because it’s over but smiling because it happened. I suspect my heart will always smile when I think of Brett.

And, I don’t really think Brett’s association with the library is over because he is always up for donning our “Bee A Reader” mascot costume. And, I’ve already made him promise that he (along with Ben Rager) will be my stand-ins for Dunk the Director at the Summer Reading Kick-off event.

As if losing one member is not difficult enough, this year we are also losing Jeff Ingram, who served as our treasurer for two years. This man has the patience of a saint! I just know there have been numerous times when Kathy Knarr and I gave him absolute fits. I would get so frustrated (mostly with myself) when I didn’t understand or couldn’t explain to Jeff how to overlay the library’s financial information on the accounting/business model he felt we needed to use. Jeff was unflappable and imperturbable when I didn’t respond to his e-mail questions in a very timely fashion.

During the time Jeff has been on the library board I’ve learned much from him and respect his perspective so very much. His support and expertise has strengthened the board and the library. We are grateful he has shared his expertise with us.

Jeff has been a confidante and cheerleader on many occasions when I was angry and upset. I am in awe of his ability to know what is important. One time I wanted to have a meeting on a Thursday afternoon and it suited everyone but Jeff. Since he was the linchpin in the discussion I asked if he could rearrange his rearrangement and attend the meeting. “Nope,” he said. “I golf on Thursdays.” At that moment in time I truly understood the whole work-life balance thing. Thanks, Jeff.

I will laugh through my tears when I look at and try to analyze the library’s budget using Jeff’s methodology, which he so valiantly tried to teach me.

Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, said, “Change is the only constant in life,” and with laughter and tears I will cry because it’s over and smile because change happened.

From a 500 B.C. philosopher to Dr. Seuss in the same column. How does my mind work?

≤≤≤

Molly S. Kinney is the library director at the Mifflin County Library. She is currently reading one of her favorite authors and his action oriented character, “Spymaster” (Scot Harvath #18) by Brad Thor.

COMMENTS