"Would it be all right for me to bring this? It is our engagement picture and I'd like John to be part of the event."
I had to blink back the tears. Though we had been working on the book for well over a year together, it wasn’t until that moment I realized how much this meant to Hilde.
Once at the Leon Mann Jr. Enrichment Center, the flurry of activity began. With over 65 gathered and waiting, Hilde’s daughter Marlena helped with the refreshments, a screen was set up to watch the book trailer, reporters from two television stations and the local paper arrived, and suddenly we were on stage.
After watching the trailer, I read the chapter of the book which describes how Hedy, the protagonist, spent the night after her 19th birthday. Then it was time to celebrate Hilde’s 90th birthday with singing and cookies. Time does fly. Hilde stood and thanked her friends and neighbors, and we answered questions.
We were whisked off to a small room for interviews. Beth Lawrence from Jacksonville Channel 12, Jaqueline Matters from Greenville Channel 9, and Megan Soult from The News Times in Morehead City did a wonderful job helping Hilde relax and asked good questions.
After a fun, but exhausting day, I dropped Hilde at her home. As I waved goodbye, she said, “I can’t believe it is really done.”
Neither can I, Hilde, neither can I!