Celebrating Hedy & Her Library
Saturday, March 16, 2002
Suburbia, California 


The Cerritos Library,
the titanium-clad, most state-of-the-art library in the world

Something wonderful came to fruition in our friend's life today.  Lots of news copy has already been written about it.  In the days, months, and years to come, much more will be written about it.  

>> A Millenium Library in the making
>>  "The Experience Library"
>>  Introducing "The Experience Library"

But few will ever know about this human interest story about a behind-the-scenes, unsung contributor to this landmark event.  So, I think I'll tell you it...



Her name is Hedy.  

That's Hedy "Hula Hedy" Luna Harrison, Class of 1957, Farrington High School, Honolulu, Hawai`i. "Can't" and "try" are not in this former islander's working vocabulary.  

"Can do" is.  In Hawaiian, we say "Hiki nô!"   

A few years ago, Hedy and I became friends at a Read-Aloud Program.  Invited as readers by our teacher friends, Gylene (Leilehua High School grad) and Stacey, we read to their third-grade classes, right next to each other. Hedy loves books as much as I do, and passes on the joy of reading them to the children who come into her life. 

It takes a LOT for DH ("Dear Husband") and I to stay in town and pass on a peaceful, snowy weekend in the mountains, blissfully far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. But this we did as an expression of our solid support of our friend and Da Hawai`i Club buddy, Hedy. 

Close on the heels of losing her dear husband to cancer, Hedy herself endured the shock, pain and ordeal of a potentially life-threatening illness, in recent months, which was, thank goodness, nipped in the bud at the earliest stage with effective treatments, which were grueling and enervating, nonetheless. 

Many would have taken an extended leave from work, even taken an early retirement, but not Hedy. She was needed, and she knew it. Loving her work and "her kids," she toughed it out. Backed by her faith and enveloped by the love and hope of her family and friends, she dug in her heels.  

She hung in.  


Prayers were the only things she asked for, and we sent those up with regularity. (Thank you to each and every loving one of you who prayed for her!) At a time it was easier to retreat and languish, Hedy was out there in life's trenches, and she never stopped celebrating and living life.

At the Da Hawai`i Club's Christmas party, in the midst of her energy-zapping treatments, she was up dancing the hula, singing a stirring solo, and playing a mean 'uke, spreading cheer and goodwill. 

What a faith!  What a spirit! What an inspiration!

With the new year, every extra minute of her hectic life went into transitioning her work locale from its temporary quarters to its magnificent permanent site across the street.  As head librarian of the children's section, she had a million or more details requiring her  attention, consideration and expertise.  

We marveled.  


So, a couple of weeks ago, when the staff at the Senior Center asked for volunteer workers, DH and I snatched up two spots as opportunities to actively support Hedy's dream come true:  a new library for her community.  

With due respect and gratitude to the focused, dream-fulfilling City Council members, Charles Walton Associates, library director, Waynn Pearson, library staff, community members and local business leaders who made this sleek, futuristic library possible, we'll always think of it as Hedy's Library.

>> Dedication event will offer a day full of fun, free activities
>> Spectacular views from the rooftop outdoor terrace


Today, thousands converged on Hedy's Library to celebrate its grand opening/dedication. Behind the scenes, we were there to celebrate Hedy and pay homage to a brave soul's dedication to her kids, work, co-workers, and community, her unflagging fortitude and rare courage.

Quite frankly, we didn't know what we got ourselves into when we signed up as volunteers.  We were thinking along the lines of  the duties of  our Da Hawai`i club friends, John, who was passing out commemorative pins from a willow basket, or Fely, who was wrapping bands around wrists, color-coded for hourly self-guided tours.

Ours was not exactly the behind-the-scenes work we expected, but more like manning the front line. "Free gifts" are powerful attractants, and although ours seemed like it was way far away in a distant corner, it was the busiest booth. The one with volunteers briskly handing out bags with free gifts.  

With a couple of other seniors from the center, we worked alongside a bunch of energetic high school volunteers, who were great, hardworking kids, every one of them.  What a dichotomous crew!  

Indefatigably, we seniors worked our not-so-little, not-so-firm tushies off alongside those hard, young buns.  Non-stop and I mean, NON-stop, we stuffed and handed out gift bags. The opening/dedication was a rip-roaring success.  An estimated 8000 people showed up.

6000 gift bags were ordered, and every one of them disappeared into the eager hands of excited patrons, present and future, within six hours. That's a 1000 people per hour!  

Cerritos Library Opening/Dedication Gifts:
dolphin pencil, commemorative cube, color brochure,
Tolkien mini-book, washable tattoos, commemorative pin, bottled water, writing pad, Haagen Das ice cream and fruit bars, 
Mrs. Field's cookies, souvenir tour wrist bands.


After the last bag was handed out and before we pooped out on the spot, we trekked on over to the library to get our first peek of the newest book joint. Mostly, we were hoping to spot Hedy in the masses, give her our thumbs up, and wish her "Aloha!" 

I speak for myself (and not for my husband, who is in great shape):  I work a sedentary job, and my 50 year old body is not what it used to be.  Unaccustomed to bending up and down, lifting boxes, reaching and stretching, I gimped the short distance from the gift booth to the library's entrance.  

The Cerritos Library is a WOW!  Mind-boggling.  Eye-bewitching.  Jaw-dropping. $40 million buys a LOT.  

It's high tech with "200 computer workstations, 1,200 laptop ports, wireless headsets and handheld computers for librarians, multimedia rooms, and a more efficient circulation system that uses radio frequency to track books instead of bar codes or magnetic strips", but with Art and Crafts style furniture and accessories, this amazing library/experience is winsomely homey and inviting.

Ya never know,  we might even give up a Big Bear weekend to really check out this incredible edifice, its spectacular content, and artwork, and that's not even talking about the books -- and DVDs.  

Just as I was thinking Salonpas for those shell-shocked, over-stretched muscles in my back, buttocks and thighs, we turned the corner around the huge banyan tree (now who's going to dust that?) in the children's section.  

And there she was, greeting each and every one of her patrons with her radiant smile.

"Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Always"
is emblazoned on a wall hanging in Hedy's new office.
She lives her motto.

Hedy in her domain.  In her glory!  

She was a sight for my sore eyes, dried out by the blustery north wind, as happy tears that welled up brought instant relief.  Her warm hug made me completely forget my aching muscles. 

Hedy is the epitome of human resiliency, and her beaming presence at this library dedication is a triumph of the human will, mind, heart, and spirit over obstacles, hardship and adversity.  

Yup, it's Hedy's Library, alright.


Please keep sending your prayers for Hedy.  Let's keep her completely out of the woods.  Besides her library kids, Hedy now has a rain forest; a floor to ceiling; 15,000-gallon saltwater aquarium; a space shuttle to tend to...as well as a new guy in her life, Stan, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.  

She's very much needed, now, more than ever.  But first, a much deserved vacation is in order.


"Life is a Gift."

Me ke Aloha, 
Author Unknown

 "The only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


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This web journal was created on a September Morn, 
September 29, 2001
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