Today’s Morning Buzz is brought to you by Gabe Reaume, city manager for Saginaw, Texas. Connect with Gabe on LinkedIn.
What I’m Reading: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
What I’m Watching: Past Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meetings (I love Warren Buffett!)
What I’m Listening To: The Turnpike Troubadours
A Hobby I Enjoy: Value Investing
What I’m Working on: My first fiction novel and planning for a brand-new library in Saginaw, soon to break ground.
During the closing Sunday breakfast of the Texas City Management Association conference a couple of years ago, the keynote speaker challenged the crowd with haunting words.
“What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but have never done?”
I knew my answer. Immediately. I’ve always wanted to write a book.
A few months before, I had lost my “adopted” grandmother, Joan, who happened to be the actual grandmother of my great friend Mike Goodrum, who serves as the city manager of Sugar Land, Texas.
I happened to be in Houston for the Texas Municipal League conference where Saginaw was being recognized as an award winner in October of 2021. I stole away to an assisted living facility in Sugar Land (about 40 minutes away) the evening before the opening session to see Joan. She wasn’t feeling well. Little did I know she would pass away later that night. I’m forever grateful for that time together. Though she couldn’t speak, I know for sure she recognized me.
We, after all, had been the unlikeliest of roommates for nearly four years when I lived with Joan early in my career working for the City of Sugar Land. At that time, I was in my early 20s and she was in her 80s. Joan’s wisdom, encouragement, and unyielding love helped me become the person I am today: a husband, a father, and a city manager. She never doubted me for a second in any endeavor I might have pursued, even if I doubted myself.
When she left this world full of years and full of grace, there was a void left in me that can’t ever be filled completely. But, this pesky, nagging feeling in my heart knew that sharing our time together was a story worth telling, if not for me, then maybe for our four kids to read someday. (Backstory: My wife Cori and I met at a Texas City Management Association conference years ago. She is also in city management. She would tell you we wouldn’t recommend two city management careers under one roof. But you probably can’t help who you fall in love with!)
The effort that goes into writing is tiring, much like the effort that goes into serving communities with the grace, the passion, and the professionalism that ELGL members carry to work each day.
I have found writing to be an outlet to cope with the stress and challenges you know all too well of serving the public and our elected officials. I’m not a particularly brilliant person but I am disciplined in my geriatric Millennial years.
So, a page at a time, I set to the work of writing my (first) book, Strangers and Angels: Finding Family in Unexpected Places, which was published on Amazon/Kindle Direct Publishing in September.
To hear friends, colleagues, and even people I don’t know compliment my work and appreciate my stories is a very peculiar feeling. As you know, we oftentimes encounter criticism and complaints, despite our best efforts to educate and engage. I don’t quite know what to do with myself when I hear nice things said, but I’m very grateful.
To whatever challenge might be facing you as you read this, I share Joan’s advice:
“There is nothing that can keep a good person down forever. You are smart and kind. You treat people the way they ought to be treated. There is nothing you can’t do. You know I love you and I always will.
Go get ’em, Tiger!”
Strangers and Angels: Finding Family in Unexpected Places is available in paperback and through Kindle: Amazon.com: Strangers and Angels: Finding Family in Unexpected Places eBook : Reaume, Gabe: Kindle Store