Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Story time

One of my fondest memories of childhood is being sick. (Huh? Where’s the fun in being sick?) Why? Because my mother would read to me. And the sicker I was, the more she’d read.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to read. I learned to do that when I was five. What made being really sick special was the simple act of being read to. My mother told stories to us over lunch when I was really little. It’s one of my earliest memories. My brother is two years older than I, and I clearly remember story time where my sister (two years younger) was not around. She may have been napping, but my mom’s stories were about my brother and me, or at least two children that were a lot like us: Eduard and Richard, the little Swiss boys, or Eduardo and Ricardo, the little Spanish boys (you get the drift). I know my sister wasn’t involved because I remember being severely put out when my mom’s stories began to include “and little Lynette”. So, I could not have been much older than three.

Anyway, back to being sick. I had all the usual childhood illnesses (mumps, measles, strep throat, flu, terrible colds. My mother would have to stay home with me, of course, and since I was bedridden, there wasn’t much I could do. Of course, I’d read to myself, but the special time was when mom would appear in the doorway with a book in her hand.

The most memorable time, she had a brand new one bought just for me. It had a lovely cover and its title was Uncle Wiggily in the Country by Howard R. Garis. (I still have it.) I loved the stories in that book. I’m sure my mother did, too, since it was episodic (the book was a collection of his stories published every day in newspapers in the early part of the 1900s), so she could read me a satisfying little story, then disappear off to do whatever she was doing. After lunch, I’d get another story, and if I was really lucky, another mid-afternoon and one after dinner, possibly with my dad reading (that was really special. When Uncle Wiggily appeared I was sick for a number of days, so we made it a good way into the book before I got better.

Funny thing is, I still enjoy being read to. I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling. Nobody does it much for me anymore, but it is a lovely thing when it happens. And remembering this, I am always up for reading to someone else.

Today is my grandson Jackson’s very first birthday. We babysit him one or two days a week and it just so happens he’s with us on his special day. I plan on reading to him when it’s time for his nap. Uncle Wiggily will be on the menu, and even though he probably doesn’t understand anything I’m saying, just the tone of voice will be enjoyable to him. I know because we read to our two boys just about every night, starting in infancy and continuing until they were three or four. It was a special time for all of us and fondly remembered.

We have lots of books to share with Jackson in the coming months, but years from now, maybe he’ll remember his very special day and a very special book (to his grandfather, at least). I would love nothing more than for him to become an avid reader.

With that in mind, maybe you should read this.

Or get someone else to read it to you! Sorry, but I’m already booked…


Sybil Johnson said...

Your post made me smile.

Anonymous said...

Nice touch Rick. Except that I'm not sure how "Mr. Wiggles" goes with "Type M for Murder". Maybe, I need to re-read "Mr. Wiggles" for a darker side?

Rick Blechta said...

Ah, we can't do murder and mayhem all the time! Besides the bad guy in this book (the Tiddlewink) was clearly psychotic...

Eileen Goudge said...

My mom used to read those books to me, too. I loved Uncle Wiggly. Also the tales of Br'er Rabbit. Such fond memories.