Recently I was fortunate to meet and have an illuminating conversation with my favorite children’s book illustrator, Jerry Pinkney, at a private reception hosted by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Mr. Pinkney is an award-winning artist who has been in the industry for 50 years and illustrated many beautiful books such as The Lion and the Mouse, The Tortoise and the Hare, and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
Meeting someone whom I admire greatly as an artist was the highlight of my birthday week. Mr. Pinkney even graciously inscribed my favorite book of his, God Bless the Child. As a children’s book writer, and as someone who “dabbles” in watercolor, acrylic, and pastels, meeting one of my creative heroes was a dream come true.
Shortly after my encounter with Jerry Pinkney, my handbag was stolen. My entire life was contained within this bag: wallet, driver’s license, credit cards, multiple check books, debit cards, work ID badge, house key, car key, and my Samsung Galaxy 3 with hundreds of pictures. And, I’m sad to report, my freshly-signed Jerry Pinkney picture book was also in my bottomless purse as well.
I spent many hours contacting banks, credit card companies, the police, and Verizon. I continually stressed about my personal security and potential identity theft. After all, the perpetrator(s) now know my address and have my house and car keys. Was there going to be a second wave of crime? A home invasion or grand theft auto??
Bad things happen all the time to people. I know others who have experienced home burglaries, being robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight, and having purses stolen right off their shoulder in a big city.
The financial accounts and the things that make the mechanics of my life run smoothly can be replaced. Yes it’s a huge hassle to sit in the Department of Driver Services (where I drafted this blog post for 2 hours on notebook paper), go to my bank, and visit the Verizon store. And changing the locks on my house was also an unexpected time-suck and expense. But as someone pointed out, at least I wasn’t physically harmed. I know I will get my peace of mind and sense of security back eventually.
But once the flurry of activity of reissuing my license, credit cards, checking accounts, and phone access has subsided, I will still greatly miss my personally-signed copy of my beloved Jerry Pinkney book. I will always have the shining memories of meeting and speaking with him, but my autographed book that marked that significant occasion can’t be replaced. And I’m honestly sad about that.
I’m not mad any longer at the thieve(s) who stole my purse. The situation makes me contemplate how I can help people–especially “at risk” youth–steer clear of the criminal path. What ways I can assist the community in helping others stay on the right side of the law, regardless of their age?
If one good thing comes out of this personal ordeal, I sincerely hope that the people who stole my handbag recognize the beauty and awe of my Jerry Pinkney book God Bless the Child, and pass it on to a youth who will love it as much as I do, and that it will ignite a passion for reading, art, or both.
I have to find a silver lining in this life-interrupting theft, or else I will end up the victim (and the criminals win), and I’ll be bah-humbugging all the way to Christmas.