I have my dear mother to thank for my passion for books.
A few weeks before her death last September, it became obvious to me that her life was quickly drawing to a close, because she was no longer interested in reading. My nephew tried his best to get her interested in a book or even a crossword puzzle, but her passion for words and ideas were gone. I think that broke my heart almost as much as seeing her lying in her bed in the nursing home.
You see, my mother LOVED reading. One of my earliest memories in life was of sitting in her lap and sharing a book through her eyes and voice. Or lying in bed for before my Sunday afternoon nap, listening to her read the Sunday comics to me, pointing to the words in the little balloons of each frame of the cartoon. It was an unbelievable early treasure for me to explore.
A few years ago I came across another book by Anne Lamott, whom I quoted a couple weeks ago on this blog. That book is Bird By Bird. It's a book on writing, technically, but it's more "inspiration" than "how-to." On page 15 of the paperback version is one of the greatest passages I've ever read, and in a way it took me right back to my mother's lap. Here's what Ann says:
For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things that you don't get in real life--wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I'm grateful for it the way I'm grateful for the ocean. Aren't you? I ask.
Yes, I am, Anne. Yes, I most certainly am.