Monday, April 8, 2013

Words for my Mother to Read

Mints in my pocket: Enlightenmint, Enjoymint, Achievemint, Wondermint

It was my mother who introduced me to books and instilled in me a love of reading and the written word. My mother always had a book in her hand or within easy reach. Growing up, I remember her reading late into the evenings on the comfy armchair that was conveniently located beneath the built-in bookcase of our wood-paneled family room. That bookcase housed the tomes that fed and shaped my mother’s life. Books on horticulture and roses lined the shelves facing large windows that overlooked my mother’s extraordinary rose gardens. My mother studied those books and created a lush and fragrant back yard paradise that showcased more than 100 varieties of rosebushes, many chosen in honor of her six children. Instead of a lemonade stand, my sister and I would sell rainbow bunches of roses by the dozens to neighbors and passersby.

My mother’s faith in God and quest for spiritual understanding was pronounced in the multitude of titles dedicated to theology and diverse cultures. She was active in her church and cultivated a faith and innate desire to learn that allowed her to delve into the structures and foundations of a broad range of beliefs and values. Her own value system evoked kindness, patience and above all, acceptance. 

I have five siblings, so it was always a special treat for me when my mother and I could go together to the little book store up the street called the Book Nook. It’s where I discovered Judy Blume, "A Wrinkle in Time," and the evil White Witch who resided on the other side of that infamous wardrobe. I’d devour a book in a day or two, and my mom would happily take me back to buy another. I’d browse the shelves while my mother chatted with the store owner about new titles, authors and current events.

My mother greatly enjoyed fiction, especially crime novels and mysteries fraught with political intrigue. She prefered the heft of hard covers to paperbacks, and would NEVER consider a Kindle or, ironically enough, the (Book) Nook. It was simply unthinkable. 

Whenever my mother finished a novel, she added it to an ever-growing pile destined for donation. When her mother was alive, she’d pack the books in a box and mail it to her in Baltimore. Together my mother and grandmother would form a book group of two, discussing the characters and plot lines for hours over the phone. My grandmother kept a log of each and every book she read, a long and remarkable record of a passion that has been passed down the generations like a priceless heirloom.

As much as books shaped my mother’s life, my mother’s love for reading shaped mine. It is perhaps the greatest gift she gave me.