Cap and I first met on a Sunday morning at church several years ago. She was sitting in the pew directly behind us, so my husband and I introduced ourselves during greeting time. "My name is Cap," she said, and I remember thinking what an interesting name that was.
It was impossible not to like Cap immediately. She was one of those people that seemed to radiate the joy and love of Jesus. She continued to sit behind us every Sunday, and we always greeted her warmly, and I often sat to chat with her while everyone around us was making the rounds.
Before long I discovered that two of Cap's grandsons--of whom she was immensely proud--attended the school at which I worked. I remember the delight in her eyes when I told her that I worked with each of them regularly in my capacity as a para. As if that didn't delight her enough, when she learned I was an author with my first picture book soon to be published, she was so tickled and impressed that she insisted on hearing all about it.
Cap was around 74 years old at the time, and not in the best of health. But she stayed active and was always full of joy and optimism, even when she was recovering from an injury or surgery. Nothing could keep her down for long.
In June of 2015, Cap was one of the first people to show up for my first ever book store event, celebrating the release of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? Here she is standing next to me as I signed her copies of the book (she bought several).
Over the past few years, I've gotten to know Cap fairly well through our chats at church, impromptu visits in her cozy living room, and occasional phone conversations. I learned that Cap was not her real name, but a nick name given to her by her Navy husband early in their marriage. She was immensely proud of her children and grandchildren, and her love for her husband (and his love for her) was nothing less than inspiring. She was married at 17, and she and her husband would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary later this month.
Eventually, Cap stopped sitting behind us on Sunday mornings and started sitting with us. She would come into the sanctuary, moving slowly but intentionally with the aid of her walker, and look toward our usual spot. I loved the way her eyes lit up when she saw me.
Cap was a dear friend. She was also my biggest fan. Bigger than my own mother, if that is possible. She always wanted to know about my next book, always insisted that I keep her up to date so that she wouldn't miss out, always reminded me how proud she was of what I had accomplished. If I got an update from my editor, Cap got an update too.
So, naturally, when I received the F&G's of TWO TOUGH TRUCKS several months ago, I went for a visit. Cap was delighted to see the early, unbound version of the book. I even brought my iPad along so she could see the digital version of the not-quite-finished FEDERICO AND THE WOLF. She was tickled. And she couldn't wait to see each of those books in finished form.
Unfortunately, Cap passed away last week, so she never got a chance to see those books in published form. But I am so glad to have been able to share their journey with her. Even more than that, I am so glad to have been able to call such a delightful, loving woman my friend. I will miss her a lot.
And if you didn't know her, you missed out.