A little over twelve years ago I decorated my first nursery. We borrowed a crib and a changing table from my sister-in-law, and we bought a glider so that I could rock the baby to sleep. We bought pretty nondescript linens and baby blankets because we were unsure whether we were having a boy or a girl.
Many evenings in the final months of pregnancy, I would go and sit in the room and read to the unborn baby. I had a plethora of books because I had received so many wonderful baby books from my aunt and a colleague at my shower.
About a month before the baby was due, my father telephoned and asked me to stop over their house. He said he had found something for me and the baby in the attic. My father was a very eclectic man, so I was a little bit nervous what he wanted to give us. Was I going to get a neon Bud Light sign because it was blue? Or an odd watercolor picture that he thought appropriate for a baby’s wall?
When I arrived at their house, I walked in to find a packing box on the kitchen table.
“What’s this?” I questioned.
“Open it,” my dad said. Both of my parents stood and watched me open the box.
“I pulled back the lid and inside were my childhood books. My mother had bought me dozens of Dr. Seuss books, and here they were!
“I’ve been waiting to give these books to you,” my mother beamed. These were the books she read to me before I went to bed. These were the books that taught me to read, and subsequently, made me a lover of reading.
I was deeply touched and excited to get this gift from my parents. It is not that I had ever forgotten about them, and knowing that my parents were savers, I should have known they kept them, but I think because my brother already had children, I assumed anything they had that would go to a baby had already been given to him.
When they gave me the box and I pulled the books out one by one, I was moved that they had saved these books with the intention of giving them to me as an adult. I felt awe that these books that were mine would soon be my child’s.
“I cannot believe you are giving these to me,” I said paging through The Cat in the Hat. “With the boys still being so young, I thought you would have given these to Ricky.”
“No,” my mother said smiling. “I bought these books for you. I want you to have them. I want you to read them to your children, and I want your children to learn to read from these books just as you did.”
“Absolutely,” I said hugging her. “I want that, too.”
For twelve years, we have read these books. Three children have scoured the pages, looked at the pictures, learned their words. Some books have been read hundreds of times. Yet today, I decided it was time to pack them up, to put them away, to make room on the shelves for the chapter books everyone is suddenly reading. I realized that no one has read most of the stories in a very long time. They have grown. They have matured. They have evolved. I will put the boxes in the attic.
Someday, my children will have children. They will read to their own children from these same pages, and they will say, “These books were your grandma’s books. Grandma learned to read from these books way back in the 1970s. And you know what? She told us that these books were her favorite books of all time because they were given to her by her mother, your great-grandmother. They were shared out of love.”
And thus, we will forever be connected; my mother’s love will continue on.