Something Old for My Birthday

For my birthday this year, my parents gave me something old. And something I’ve long hoped to own. Not because it has monetary value, but because of a magical moment I spent in front of it some sixty-four years ago. Three years old, I had been sitting on a bench in front of it—a small children’s bookcase in our living room in Grantsville, Maryland. My parents had read the books on its shelves so often to me that I had memorized parts of them.

That morning for some reason, a few of those words popped out to me. Unexpectedly, I knew them. And they were on other pages. I tugged on my mom’s skirt as she changed my brother’s diaper.

“Look!” I said. “I know this word. It says ‘jump.’ I’m reading.”

I wanted to know every word in the world. All that day, I followed my mom from the kitchen sink to the ironing board to the rocking chair, always tugging on her skirt.

“What’s this word?” I’d ask her. “Is this word ‘laughed’?”

I can read, I told myself that night in bed.

The next morning before I opened my eyes. I thought something good had happened. And then I remembered—I could read.

I’m not sure where to put this little old bookshelf. In our living room? In my writing room? In a bedroom? And will I fill it again with children’s books? Or poetry? Or my Pearl S. Buck collection? Whichever room and whatever it holds, I’m glad to have it where I can see it often and remember the day when words began popping from pages to widen my world.

4 Replies to “Something Old for My Birthday”

  1. I love this memory you shared and am so glad you have the bookshelf. You are the one who taught me how to read before I went to kindergarten, if I remember correctly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful story about the thrill of reading. ! am not surprised at all that your mother read a lot to you. She loved words too.

    Like

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