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
Millenium Library in the making
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
event will offer a day full of fun, free activities
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!
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
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,
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.
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
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
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,
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
She's very much needed, now, more than ever. But first,
a much deserved vacation is in order.
"Life is a Gift."
only gift is a portion of thyself..."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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