By Matthew McCully
Julie Smith, who lives at St. Francis manor in Lennoxville, treated fellow residents and invited guests to a story of inspiration- and some homemade Scottish shortbread- at the launch of her children’s book, Oh Yes I Can, Just Watch Me! on Sunday afternoon.
Co-written with her son Jamie Smith, the book tells a story of perseverance and determination, drawn from Julie’s experiences growing up with a disability.
At the age of three, Julie contracted polio, which left her partially disabled.
As she got older, she was often told to manage her expectations and not ‘think too big’ because of her physical limitations.
Julie would hear none of it, going on to marry, become a teacher for children with learning disabilities, and raise three children.
When the pandemic was declared and people were isolated, Julie was chatting with her son Jamie on Mother’s Day. When he asked what plans she had to keep busy she said, “well, I had an idea to write a children’s book.”
She had plenty of interesting ideas, but was at a loss as to how to put them all together.
“I said, well maybe for the first one, what about just keeping it simple,” Jamie explained during the book launch. “Why don’t you just write about the story of your life?”
Throughout her life, Julie was constantly told “you can’t do that” because of her leg braces. It was even suggested that marriage was likely out of the question for her.
“And what did you always tell them?” Jamie asked. “Oh yes I can, just watch me!” Julie replied.
Jamie immediately pointed out “Mom, that’s the title of the book!”
Instead of chocolate or flowers for Mother’s Day, Jamie’s gift to Julie was to Zoom every day and write the book together.