Life on the bookmobile is a bit different from the other JMRL branches. We all have our ups and downs, our good days and bad, but there are some situations one only encounters out on the road.
With the bookmobile, I visit country stores and post offices, some neighborhoods, several preschools, and many senior communities. These last are always my busiest stops; patrons are waiting for me to arrive, book bags and request lists in hand. I go to JABA-sponsored low income complexes, the fanciest communities up on the hill, and everything in between. I was well into middle age when I started on the Bookmobile, it was a perfect time to look forward to discover the possibilities.
It has been an honor and a privilege to work with so many seniors over the years. I have heard some amazing stories of times past and lives lived around the world; I’ve met their families, talked about books, and commiserated over illnesses. We’ve moved through the stages of regular print to large print to audiobooks. They’ve moved from independent living to assisted living to nursing care, often with stops in health care and hospice. We’ve shared laughter, tears, fears, and some heart-breaking moments.
The first time I learned one of my regular patrons had passed away, I was reading the Sunday paper. The obituaries came up as I turned the page, and there was a picture of one of my ‘little ladies.’ I was taken aback and glad I was home alone. I’ve learned since then to check the obituaries regularly.
Over the years, I’ve interacted with many staff members, aides, volunteers, family members and surrogate family members who care for these elders. As a whole, it is an amazing group of people who give of their time and attention from the kindness of their hearts. I’d like to hope that I add some small measure of care myself.