In honor of Share a Story ~ Shape a Future 2010...
When I think back to my childhood, one of the memories that stands out the most for me is reading with my Grandpa.
From a generation where men were seen as breadwinners and largely absent from the caretaking role in the home, my Grandpa was an incredibly kind, patient, loving and affectionate man who relished time with his grandchildren after having spent most of his sons' childhoods working long hours in a steel mill. I remember his black-rimmed glasses and his big black leather lounge chair, cracked from years of "resting my eyes" and carefully taped back together; my grandparents would much rather spend their money on day trips and vacations spent with family than on new furniture. My Grandpa and I would sit in that chair and read and read, mostly Dr. Seuss. My Grandpa is gone now, but his volumes of To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, McElligott's Pool and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas are still on the bookshelf at my Gram's house next to other prize volumes including his Navy yearbook and two-volume leather (okay, imitation leather)-bound Brittanica dictionary.
Of course, I reached a point where I was off reading Charlotte's Web, Judy Blume and Little House on the Prarie on my own (most of which were given to me as gifts from my grandparents), and my Grandpa started using his chair time to read his own books. A regular at the local library, the librarians would call the house when something came in that they thought would interest him. He liked to read about American history and music especially, but he read a lot of fiction as well. He also liked to keep up on current events and walked two miles to the town deli each day to pick up a newspaper until he was eighty-four years old and unable to make the trip anymore. When I think of him now, I see him in that chair with a book.
I know that he would have loved being a great-grandfather as much as he loved being a grandfather, and I am sorry that my kids never got the chance to know this special man. But, I hope that I give my children the kinds of memories and the love of books and learning that he has given me.