Monday, November 18, 2013

Thank you. You're NOT welcome

Today I have so many things to share. There's the story of Batkid and how he saved San Francisco! There's Maggie' great visit to the zoo yesterday and the wild video we shot at the Grizzly Bear exhibit! There's Maggie baking with mom!  Lots of stories for a Monday.

I was trying to decide where to start when I saw something last night that made me switch gears completely. Barbara Park, author of the Junie B. Jones series of books passed away on Friday after a long battle with cancer. She was only 66 years old. I did not know Barbara Park, but I felt immediate sadness when I read that. Steve looked just as sad when I told him. I said, "That woman made our daughter's life so much richer." Steve said, "Without a doubt."

Maggie absolutely adored the Junie B Jones books. We own every single one of them and each was read aloud hundreds and hundreds of times. All of us read them to Maggie, but Steve really owned it. He had voices for each of the characters and Maggie would roar her approval.  Maggie's many lengthy hospitalizations were made more bearable because of Junie B. Jones and  Steve's voices became something of a legend in the Pediatric ICU. There is very little doubt in my mind that Maggie and Junie B. Jones share a personality and an irascible spirit.

Junie B. Jones has been featured in this blog quite often. Sometimes it's overt as in Maggie World: Manners/Greetings but mostly she's there in the attitude and sayings. Maggie has a few of them on her dynavox and uses them regularly. And responding to a Thank you with "You're NOT welcome" is done in this house quite often. It sends Maggie into peals of laughter every time.

We were talking about Barbara Park just this weekend because "Make A Wish" was in the news. Maggie's Make a Wish was in 2005 when Maggie was 11. She was not able to articulate what her wish would be, so it was up to us to come up with something. Eddie thought she would want a new bike and Tim thought season tickets to the Giants games were a good idea. We were trying to do right by Maggie when Steve came up with the idea of having her meet Barbara Park, the woman who had brought so much laughter to Maggie.  It was the perfect Maggie wish.

Sadly, that wish could not be granted because Ms. Park was ill. She was undergoing treatment for cancer. That was 8 years ago. I hate to think of anyone being ill for so long. I can only hope she had some of her books to get her through the roughest times. They are a wonderful tonic.

Rest well, Ms. Park. You have certainly earned it. You made an enormous difference in the lives of millions of children and you could never imagine what a difference you made in the life of Maggie.

Thank you.
(Insert response here)


  1. How wonderful that Maggie got so much enjoyment with those books -- I love this post. I'm curious whether you told Maggie about the death, whether she understands that and if so, how she does respond.

  2. Elizabeth, No on both counts. I don't think Maggie really understands the concept of death or even of fiction. I'm sure she thinks Junie B Jones is a real girl. Even when it was our plan to meet Ms. Park via Make a wish, I wondered if Maggie would understand who she was. Now if I told her and then asked who she was Maggie would point to the Junie b Jones books,making a connection between the two, but I seriously doubt the concept that the woman had authored the books would register with Maggie.


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