the stinky cheeseman, the bfg, and other stories...
my love for books and reading did not come from my parents
my mom has read few books in her life, in my lifetime, maybe 10 that i remember.
my dad reads, sometimes, about sports, abraham lincoln, politics, and faith.
my brother never reads. i can count the books he has read on my fingers and toes.
when i was a little girl i would drag a whole stack of books to my mom, crawl in her lap, and there i would sit until the stack was all complete.
when i was three and i wanted to read so badly, i asked my mom to teach me how. she said no, she couldn't teach me, but that i would be going to school next year and i would learn then. she was afraid she would teach me wrong, she was afraid she would ruin my love for books. instead i sat in my bed by the light of my bedside lamp and taught myself how to read.
my grandpa herman was very old. he was 49 when my dad was born, he was already in poor health by the time i was born. my brother has few memories of him well, he is just 3 years younger than me. i have few very vivid memories of him, lots of vague memories, and most of them are memories of him reading to me.
every time i went to my grandma and grandpa's house i found this book first thing. i would take it to my grandpa and he would pull me up in his lap and read it to me. i would touch his whiskers and breathe in deep breaths of his distinctive smell. cotton balls, flannel shirts, old spice, and old man smell. it smelled lovely to me.
as he got older and sicker he laid in a hospital bed in the middle of the living room. he still read to me then. the adults would try to keep us of his bed, they didn't want us messing up his tubes and medicines and monitors. but he wanted nothing more than to have us near him. i would grab that book and march it right over to his bed. i would crawl into bed with him, or hold the book up next to him so we could read it together.
as he got older and sicker they moved him to a nursing home. daddy would pick me up from school sometimes and we would go visit him, just dad and me. i always checked out a book from the library to take with me on these days. i would read to him, and he would comment on how lovely i read, how smart i was, and what a pretty girl i had become.
we moved away after first grade. the last time i saw my grandpa was the summer before 4th grade. we went into his room at the nursing home, and it was hard to look at him. he had deteriorated so. he looked right at me, and asked my dad why melinda couldn't make it. i fought back tears for an hour until we got back into the safety of our own car. my grandpa didn't recognize me, and i hardly recognized him. crawling into his lap and reading miss suzy seemed like a lifetime ago, and i had missed out on so many more times reading with him.
my grandpa died that following spring. and looking back now, i see all the days spent in his lap reading miss suzy and peter rabbit and how to scare a lion. i remember escaping to his lap, and escaping to an imaginary world of magic and talking animals and blue skies. i remember how much he loved reading to me, with me, or me reading to him.
and i am so grateful that i had a grandpa who loved to read with me, who encouraged my love for books and knowledge, who didn't care if i wanted to hear the same book over and over again. i am so grateful for those memories that i have of my grandfather that my own brother, some of my cousins do not have.
i love that common thread we shared, and will share forever. i will carry with me always my love for books, that my grandpa shared. that is something we will always share.