Postscript and Serendipity

February 18, 2006

O Best Beloveds, I don’t know how many of you might have followed my road trip adventures back in Sept, but before reading the rest of this entry, please read Road Trip Day 9 …because this story won’t make sense until you’ve read the part about Monroeville. I’ll wait.

So Friday was my father’s birthday, and my brother and I went to see our mom, that we might all go view the spiffy new headstone, and have some cake, and mourn. The cake, by the way, came from Lisa’s excellent new Big Sugar Bake Shop, and it was superlative. Also fine were her buckeye candies, consumed graveside as a toast to a man who spent the first several of his very-nearly 84 years on Buckeye Rd. in Cleveland.

But the following happened before all that. Right as we got to Mom’s, Steve calls from home. “There is a package in the mail from Monroeville for you.”

Now, I had looked in the mail, not expecting a darn thing, and yet totally so, eager and optimistic anyway, for days after the road trip ended. Each day that went by without a certain white padded self-addressed envelope made me less encouraged about my literary longshot. When it wasn’t in the pile of mail post-Serbia, I mostly gave up, and even more or less forgot about it, though occasionally it would pop into my head, and I would think “Wonder if I’m ever going to see that book again? If she won’t sign it, which is totally fine, will someone at least send it back? I really liked that particular volume.”

And now, all of sudden, on my Dad’s birthday–

OPENITOPENITOPENITOPENIT, I shouted at Steve, to solve the mystery of what was Schrodinger’s book, at that moment both signed and unsigned and neither signed nor unsigned. He complied.

Right on the flyleaf. “Harper Lee” with a nice underscore.

No, she didn’t date it, or write “best wishes” (her only salutation for these matters) or my name, as I had asked, which was a disappointment so teenyweeny it feels churlish to even think it, because after all she doesn’t sign books any more, she wasn’t going to sign my book at all, no way, this was a Hail Mary pass, and yet HERE IT WAS. She did it, she really did. I want to carry it around with me like a teddy bear.

“Is it worth something?” my mom inquired, meaning dollar-wise, as she knows just how much means to me emotionally and sentimentally. (And she was the one who found that very hardcover for me, in a thrift shop, after I wore out at least four paperbacks.) Sure, I said, but what does it matter? Right, my brother said, the one who gave me the book in the first place, three decades ago, because he loved it, and when I loved it, too, it was our first sibling connection. “After all, it would be a sin to sell `To Kill a Mockingbird.'” Which was awfully darn funny of him.

My dad would have loved this story. So we went to the grave and told him about it.

Of course I’m sending her a thank you note.

Harper FREAKIN’ Lee signed my copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird,”