The Blessings of Books, Friends and Family

Books have played a significant role in my life since before my arrival on the planet. My father, a lawyer, was addicted to reading, feasting on theology and history, but also enjoying art, woodworking, sculpture, gardening, historic houses, mysteries, wars, politics, biographies, and poetry. His tastes in reading were vast, and occasionally, his book purchases were surprising. Our home had built-in bookcases everywhere. Frankly, my mother was not a lot different, although she did show significantly more restraint in buying books. I laughed when Dad would inscribe a book to our mother, which was quite obviously something he wanted to read in the worst possible way.

My mother majored in English in college, and when I started kindergarten, she went back to school to get a Master’s degree in British and American Literature.  Not too long after that, Mom was called by the university to be a substitute teacher for two different professors. The happiest of those two occasions was when Mom finished a course for a pregnant professor whose doctor had ordered immediate bed rest. Later, the exciting news arrived that the pregnant professor had given birth to two healthy eleven-pound babies!

Most of my mom’s working years were spent teaching English to junior high and high school students. Years later, she taught reading to eighth-graders who were reading far below grade level. I admired her strategies. She always stocked her reading classroom with magazines that eighth-graders could take home and read without being embarrassed. The Hot Rod magazines were a big hit. By the end of each school year, the kids were reading at, or above, grade level.

Years after our Dad had died, when our mother finally sold the family home, we all got to pick out books for our libraries. Then she invited some friends in to take a look. A high school friend of mine recently found a book on her mother’s bookshelf that caught her attention. She sent me a couple of pictures, spine, and inscription, and asked if it had come from my parents. I recognized my Dad’s writing in a heartbeat and saw that it had initially been a gift about gardening for his mother. Weird how things turn up now and then. So thanks, Jan, for the memory of my parents and their love of reading.

I’ve had my last doctor’s appointment with the Cardiologist who was the one who met me in July when I went to the ER with chest pains. I am pleased to report that all is well and thus endeth my doc appointments since my Cholecystectomy a few weeks back. You can read about that here: Character — Be One and Have One.  It was when I came home from that appointment that I finally got started shelving the Lit books. A two-pronged blessing: having my books again and getting to flatten a whole slew of boxes and get them out of the house.

Frankly, I was surprised at how much my mental health improved once I saw our books again.  With the recently repainted bookcase for all manner of literature, I have discovered books that I haven’t seen in nearly two years. God is good!

To make everything fit in the living room, however, two bookcases, already stocked with books, had to be emptied and moved. Once again,  we have piles of books on the floor. We had overnight houseguests earlier in the week, but I couldn’t reshelve the books in time. Our 1855 house has wooden floors that aren’t necessarily level.  Thankfully our guests were not bothered by our wildly imperfect house.  But it won’t be for long.  Next week I will have shims and can get books off the floor.  This is all good.  I am a happy camper.


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