Last week I had the opportunity to travel back to my home town of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. It always gives me pause returning, as so many memories come flooding back whenever I am there. What I find interesting; it is not just memories of my being a little girl growing up in this lovely little town but also my more recent memories, the reconnecting with friends again. I have not lived in this town for over 40 years and have barely returned except for high school reunions. Something happened in 2009 when I returned for my 40th reunion, something wonderful. I felt a sense of belonging, a sense of a closeness that only people that are the same age and grow up in the same town can experience. It is a rare experience to find such camaraderie.
I arrived on Sunday, September 11th, such a somber day. There were my friends, Bill and Dave waiting to take me out to dinner and help me get my books ready for the next day's upcoming events.
I returned to speak to the entire student body of Cuyahoga Falls High School. This would not have happened if it weren't for the persistence of my high-school friend, Bill. He made it happen.
He asked me what he could do to help and he didn't rest until he got the speaking engagement for me.
Three of my class of 1969 friends also came to hear me speak,Jerry, on the right, (who filmed the entire speech), Dave (my neighbor from a long time ago) and Bill (the organizer of my event!). I spoke about my experiences in New York at Ground Zero after 9/11 and encouraged and challenged the students to think not just about themselves but to also think about helping others, The message came through loud and clear and I had many students stop by after to talk to me and ask questions. Several purchased my book, First Aid For Heroes.
My high-school friend, Monica, suggested that I have a book signing at a local bookstore in Hudson, Ohio. After many phone calls we finally got it to happen and that very evening after my speaking engagement I held a book signing at The Learned Owl. My friends descended on the store and some of them titled themselves the "flashmob."
There was laughter and a strong sense of support. I will never forget my "cheerleaders" being there for me and making me feel as if I were a celebrity!