As I mentioned in my last post, I've been reading a lot recently. Rather than buy new books, I'm trying to go through the novels on my bookshelves—the ones that have been sitting there for ages, which, for one reason or another, I just haven't picked up.
The other day, looking for something new, I picked out Bridge of Sighs...and immediately, I knew it was a book that my mother had given me. It had all of the telltale signs: thicker pages, slightly disheveled-looking and ruffled with moisture. My mother liked to read in the bath at night, and the humidity in the air (or, perhaps, the book being dropped in the water) had warped the pages. Most of her books looked like that.
Whatever we may have disagreed on, a love of reading was one thing we always shared. Whenever she'd call to chat or just to check up on me, she invariably asked what I was reading. We'd compare notes on our latest Book Club and whether or not we thought the book was of any value. When I went home to visit, I'd return with an armful of books, leaving behind others that I had enjoyed for her to try.
Now, as a mom myself, it brings me so much joy to see my children interested in reading. My three-year-old has always been a book lover, and no bedtime would be complete without bedtime stories. Even my youngest, just starting to talk, knows enough to say "Book!" and point at the bookshelves in her room...she even has opinions now about which books she wants to read, if you can believe it.
I have always believed in the power of language: to bring people together, to bridge gaps, to open up pathways into new worlds, real or imagined, beyond our immediate experience. I love watching my 16-month-old learn to use words to get what she wants and to convey feelings, and watching my three-year-old learn the permanence of writing things down.
Now that my mom is gone, I miss that experience of sharing stories with her. But I'm lucky, in a way: I get to relive it through the time I spend reading to my girls, through their love of the written word.
I'll just have to teach them to keep the books out of the bathroom.