What is the take-away you want readers to get at the end of the book?
WithConversations on the Bench, I really want the readers to take away something from the lessons that Sebastian shared. I don’t think any of them were earth-shattering or ground breaking, but I think they have a lot of insight particularly in the world we live in today. He shared a lot of wisdom with a lot of people over the years and in doing so impacted their lives. Learn something from what Sebastian had to say in recounting his own life experiences. They’re simple and clear lessons but they’re told in a way that only Sebastian could tell them, and they speak to everyone. I didn’t know Sebastian as well as many people, but I know he was an inspirational guy for many.
Aside from the lessons, I think it’s important for the reader to take away something from Sebastian’s own life story. Here was a guy of mixed descent. His father was Filipino and his mother was of French, Spanish, and American Indian ancestry. He grew up in Charleston, South Carolina during segregation and desegregation, and it was a tough childhood. He was outcast from the blacks and the whites. His family wasn’t dirt poor but wasn’t well off. His father died at an early age. He went away to college, fell in love with the woman of his dreams, and got a good education then went to work and worked one or two jobs most of his life. He was a tax auditor for the State of South Carolina, went through a tough break up with his longtime girlfriend, and became morbidly overweight. He didn’t have a lot, and he was forced to retire early because of his health. But he didn’t let it get him down. He didn’t let his weight or his health stop him from enjoying life and trying to make a difference for other people, and he was a selfless guy. He was always there for his friends and willing to help. He believed in paying it forward. Our society is pretty self consumed these days. If anything, I hope the readers are inspired to be better people and to make themselves better.