Riding the Bus with my Sister

Riding the Bus

from a past newsletter:

“My mom taught me that you just do your best on this day,
and then see what the next day be like,
and keep moving like that…
You can learn a lot in just one day.”

~  Jesse, Beth’s boyfriend



Sometimes we get overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world. Sometimes we get overwhelmed with all that is going on in our lives. Sometimes something happens that snaps us out of our funk and reminds us of what is important in the world.  That’s what happened to me when I read “Riding the Bus with My Sister.”

Beth is a woman who comes from a dysfunctional family, kids made fun of her growing up, she has medical problems, she’s been laid off from her job, and oh yeah, she’s mentally challenged.

More than enough reasons than most of us would need to sit permanently on our pity pot, walk around in a funk and cry ‘poor me.’  But not Beth.  Beth sat home long enough to get tired of the Price is Right and All My Children, and then one day she took her bus pass and started riding the bus.  Beth didn’t ride the bus to get from one place to another, Beth rode the bus to ride the bus.

She got to know the routes, the drivers, the people on the bus. She learned who was nice and who was not, she learned the places that would let her use the bathrooms and those who wouldn’t. She shared herself, her opinions, her favorite music and life.

Beth met a lot of people to find the ones who are now her friends. She went through lots of trial and error, lots of rejection, but she found them. Beth invests herself in her friendships. She sends letters with stickers, remembers people’s birthdays, what kind of soda they like, and she visits them in the hospital when they’re sick. She went from being alone and isolated to building a community around herself of people who care.

Beth wears clothes she loves. Bright colored t-shirts, psychedelic sunglasses, and sandals as soon as the temperature hits 40. She doesn’t worry about the state of the nation, the world or the economy.  She has a boyfriend that she accepts just the way he is, and that the only thing she’s tried to change about him in 10 years is to ask him to wear a helmet when he rides his bike.

Beth’s created the life she wants out of what was handed to her. She spent her life learning to adjust to a world that doesn’t make it easy. She didn’t wait until everything was right. She just played the cards she was dealt. Beth didn’t just adjust, she stayed Cool Beth.

What Beth reminds me of is what is important in life. People. The people who are close to us. Cherishing people who love us and accept us. Letting go of those who don’t.  Investing in relationships. Stepping out to find them. We could learn a lot from Beth.

Many years ago Rachel Simon, Beth’s sister and author of the book joined us at our wonderful Barnes & Noble Group.  Beth said she was cool – I agree. Apparently I wasn’t the only one as Rosie O’Donnell was so touched she starred in the Hallmark movie of the same name. Here’s more.

If you want to laugh, if you want to cry, if you want to
what’s really important in life – this book’s for
you. “Riding the Bus with My Sister.”
Find out more at www.rachelsimon.com 

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