In grandparents Lora and Randy Rinow’s Edgecomb living room Saturday, Jameson Brooks asked if he could open one of his presents that makes noise. The Trevett, Boothbay boy, blind and surviving cancer since he was a baby, was turning 10.
Celebrating with lobster rolls, laughs and love were family and friends, one who has been writing him for years but had never met him.
Sophie Dear of Dover, Delaware learned of Brooks on a website that invited people to write to children who were sick. She wrote him and many other children, and kept writing, putting stickers on Brooks’ cards so he could feel them when his family read the cards to him. Dear said meeting him gave her a better idea of what to write from now on, since she had still thought of him as the younger child he was when she started writing.
“Now I have a better idea of what to send and what to write ... In a couple more years, he’ll be a teenager. So now I can change my mindset and not have to write simple sentences anymore.”
Dear’s weeklong visit that started July 22 was her first trip to Maine. She was staying with the Rinows.
Lora Rinow, Brooks’ mother Kristen Brooks and the boy’s great grandmother Dawn Gilbert told the Boothbay Register Dear’s notes have meant a lot to him and the family.
“The kindness of strangers is awesome,” Kristen Brooks said.
“I think it’s amazing that this woman makes that much effort to write to him,” Rinow said. “He loves mail because of her.” The handwriting is so beautiful, the notes are pieces of art, Rinow said. Dear explained, she writes neatly so that people can read it.
Rinow said when the notes kept coming, “I was like, ‘I’ve got to find her.’ So I started Googling, and I didn’t think that Sophie Dear was her real name. Who would have a name like that, right?” Then she found Dear on Facebook and they became Facebook friends. Rinow invited her to Maine last year, but the pandemic hit. So the plan changed to this year.
Retired from county government, including work as a fire and ambulance dispatcher, Dear said her curiosity to meet Brooks and his family made her want to make the trip. And she is always up for an adventure, she said. Her last trip was to West Virginia to meet a Facebook friend she had also never met.
Besides his getting to meet Dear, Lora Rinow said her grandson’s 10th birthday was special because he is a miracle. The tumor right now is stable, she said. “Nobody thought he would even see his first birthday, let alone do what he’s doing,” swimming, loving all music and, in the pandemic, using Alexa to call stores. “How many kids would do that? That takes some enguinity.” A Staples worker in Brunswick was so nice, “We took Jameson in to meet this guy,” she said.