Be sure to click "play" on the song while you read.
One of the nurses at Abe's check-up visit today noticed him looking at books and launched into a story about the first book she was given as a child...at age nine, right before her family emigrated from Croatia to the United States. Her aunt was going to throw the book out, but she decided to stash it in her suitcase for America. It became a source of wonder and connection to Croatia for her. She still has it.
Abe already has his own pretty large bookcase full of books, mostly found by his cheapskate mom for $0.49 from Goodwill. I've never counted, but it's probably upwards of 50-60. He's only 19 months old. So far, reading books is one of his favorite things to do. I hope this wonder with books keeps up. I look forward to giving him a book on Croatia (one of my favorite countries) and telling him about this nurse who lit up at the mention of books.
On this last trip south, I took Ted and Abe to Natchez, the town my dad is from, to visit the family there. We walked the bluffs of the Mississippi River, drove by countless antebellum homes, and ate greasy sausages and greens made by my uncle. And Abe was dressed in hunting camo for the day, a gift from the deer-hunters.
My grandmother's house has changed not at all in at least 30 years. The same photos are hung on the walls, the same clutter on the "middle room" desk, the same smell, the same cookware and old bottles of spray-net in the bathrooms. It's like taking a step back in time for me. I couldn't stop myself from wandering and nosing about things. I found the bookshelves in the middle room, the room where my sister and I would sleep when we visited. I quickly grabbed three books from the shelves: Ralph Rides Away, What's a Ghost to Do?, and Little PeeWee. My heart was racing as I took them to the living room to sit on the couch and read them again. These moments on my grandmother's couch became one of the most emotional parts of our trip for me.
I wasn't expecting the tears. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I cry kind of a lot. Most of those tears are expected for normal tear-inducing things like a difficult adoption or songs by The Weepies or celebrations when my friends reach some milestone...not a book called Little PeeWee. But there I was, crying as I looked through these books, remembering the hours I spent as a near-sighted chubby girl who was no good at all at any sport, reading and rereading and drawing in the margins and adding snarky thought-bubble captions to the illustrations.
My Maw-maw and Uncle Eric let me take one of the books home with me. I chose Ralph Rides Away, mainly because I thought I could find the others on amazon or ebay, which I can. I haven't ordered them yet but hope to at some point. I'm thrilled that we have a son who stares at books as long as he does, who points at the illustrations, who bobs his head as I read the ones with rhythm, who begs several times a day to read 'gooks', who seems already to get the joyful imagination that comes in getting lost in those worlds.
Notice how Abe blends into the couch here? That's because of the camo, people! Just doing its job!