Some of my fondest memories of my father revolve around reading.
Every Sunday morning, he gathered me into his lap and read whichever of the comic strips I pointed to. My father worked out of town a lot and was often home only on weekends, so these stolen moments meant the world to me.
On the nights that he was home, he would read to my younger sister and me from our book The Bedtime Book of 365 Stories. Once we outgrew the book, our younger brother had grown into the magic of these nightly tales. This book consisted of short stories and poems, amusingly illustrated by Richard Scary, that could be read in under five minutes. I still recall the story about a lion visiting New York City that fell on my birthday, and the poem about kittens that fell on my sister’s.
In the evening after dinner, Dad always reclined in his blue rocking chair reading a detective novel or a western. It was reassuring to see him sitting there with his book. It meant life was as it should be.
I’m sure my relationship with reading, and even writing, was influenced by the relationship I had with books as a result of my Father. I decided I wanted to be a writer early on. By sixth grade I was already crafting short stories. During my pre-teen and teenage years, I used my allowance to buy books that weren’t available at the library. It was rare that I had less than three going at once.
Years later, when we adopted our daughters, I went on Ebay and found a copy of The Bedtime Book of 365 Stories to share with my little ones. For my hard-to-buy-for brother’s next birthday, I returned to Ebay and found a second copy to give give him to share with his young children.
As he opened the package, tears welled in his eyes. I knew that, in that moment, my brother was five again, and Dad was sitting next to him on the bed reading. Of all the gifts he’s ever received, I think he would count that gift as one of his best, because of the memories that flooded back as he turned each page.