I got a random phone call (on my landline) the other day. Usually, when that phone rings, it’s a robocall from my school district or some scam saying my car’s warranty has expired. So, I screen the call and wait it out. This time, when the phone rang and it went to voice mail, I heard an older man’s voice politely introduce himself in a bit of a rambling manner. I listened closer and when he said his name, I recognized it immediately – it was one of my old neighbors from the cul de sac where I grew up. I ran to pick up the handset.
When it connected and I said hello, he asked if I was Stacey Tirro. I said yes, acknowledged that I knew who he was, and we started chatting. He said he had a couple of reasons for the call.
First, he wanted to offer his congratulations on publishing my book. His middle daughter, who I went to school with, had purchased a copy and sent one to him and his wife. She had seen my posts about the book signing a few weeks ago and decided to get a copy from Amazon and send it to her parents. Initially, he told me that his wife was going to read it first, but him being the faster reader, took it and started it at about midnight one night before bed. He told me that he couldn’t put it down. It was so compelling, so well-written and engaging that he read it through the night and didn’t go to sleep until about 5 a.m. I was flabbergasted by the unexpected praise.
Second, he wanted to offer his condolences on losing my mom. We were neighbors for so many years. I spent time in his house as a kid. While he didn’t really get to know my mom well (and now he knows why – she was a bit of a workaholic), he did know my dad, as they often sat next to one another riding the bus to NYC so many years ago. He agreed with what I had shared in the book, that he was gregarious, full of life, and always attracted people he was in the room with. It was lovely to hear someone else agree with what I already knew.
We spoke for quite some time. He related to some of the stories about my mom’s cancer battle, as he had his own cancer story that he shared with me. We talked about his career changes, how he was unceremoniously let go from his corporate job after 25 years and how that job took him away from his growing kids. He subsequently spent the next 17 years as a prison guard, where he was able to spend more time at home with his family and share his faith with the prisoners. We remembered a story I told in the book about when I was a child, playing with the neighborhood kids and throwing rocks at the bats at dusk, squealing and running away when the bats then swooped down at us. A welcome flash into the past, now sharing our memories as two adults.
He also shared that he had penned a memoir on the website StoryWorth, as a keepsake for his family. Not interested in selling his story, he wanted his daughters and family to know who he was and the shenanigans he got himself into in his youth. There is a powerful gift to memoir writing. Our children and grandchildren know precious little about who we were and how we came to our present being. We don’t often talk about our past – sometimes it’s painful, sometimes we just don’t think to do so when we’re going about living our lives. Sometimes, our kids are just not ready to hear the stories of old when they’re small, but when they grow up, our memories become a treasure trove to their adult selves.
For all those reasons, and more, I am glad I took the time and energy to pen What Ronnie Sue Knew. I am proud to have started my authorship path, and to have written about something so important to me. My kids still feel the sting of losing their grandmother a year ago, but I think there will come a time when they’ll want to know more. When they are older and ready to learn more about me and my parents from back in the day, this book will be waiting for them.
Towards the end of the conversation, he told me he knew I was a good person and thanked me for sharing these stories. Now, he felt he knew me and my parents a little better, as told through my perspective of course, and that my parents would be so proud of this achievement. I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for reading the book, then taking the time to talk to me about it.
It’s not often that you get that kind of random feedback from someone for the work you’ve done. As a new author, there is a mix of hope and doubt when it comes to the quality of your work and the readability of the storytelling. What a blessing it is when others feel compelled to share their positive reading experience of the words that came from your heart.
I am hopeful that, over time, my stories will be enjoyed and shared by more people. There is something different in the pages for anyone who reads it, but the connecting force is the love parents can offer to their children and how it has the power to shape their family’s future. I think there is value to reading about that, for everyone.
What Ronnie Sue Knew is available on Amazon Books in ebook and paperback.