While driving yesterday, I listened to Anna Quindlen reading her memoir, ‘Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake’. I slapped the steering wheel in agreement when she spoke of how reading connects us with a larger world, yet also brings us back to the familiar. She says, “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” Author, William Nicholson says, “We read to know that we are not alone.”
I have always loved to read. My early memories conjure images of being curled up on one end of the couch (my father on the other end) with a book, snugged into a pillow, a cup of hot chocolate or lemonade leaving wet rings on the scarred end table beside me. I recall the table lamp, etched with cows and a stream of leaping fish (or maybe that was the picture on the wall above the couch). I could sit there for hours at a time, unmoving except for my eyes and the turning of each page…losing myself in the lives and stories of others, appreciating a world beyond.
Recently, I bought a bag of used children’s books from the local library. My son’s oldest daughter reminds me of myself when I was young. Last time they visited, she saw all the books, slid down to the floor in the dining room and sat right there, reading passages out loud, sharing fun facts, enjoying herself. It was a very sweet moment for Nonie!!
Listening to Ms Quindlen talk about reading, I tried to recall the title of the first book to make me feel less alone, to help me feel I had a friend beyond the living room couch.
I am so much older now and cannot remember the name of that book or the author or even much the story itself, but at the time, I was the new kid starting at a new school in the middle of 3rd grade. The title escapes me, like so much else these days, but the girl in the story could have been me. She too, was the mousy-haired new kid. She too, felt misunderstood by her family. She wanted to disappear, go back to where she came from.
I must have read that book 100 times (you’d think I could at least recall the title), hoping the words would imprint on the inside of my eyelids so I could call them to mind when sitting alone in the cafeteria or riding my bike by myself. The author’s words tethered me, made me feel less solitary. They reached beyond the pages, pulled me back and into an embrace. This is what stories do!
There is an article at BrainPickings.org about memory and the passing of time. It states how we are most likely to vividly recall experiences and information from when we are teens (or younger) on into our twenties. It is known as the ‘reminiscence bump’. Not only do we tend to evoke events more fully from that time of our lives, we are also able to more readily quote movies, song lyrics and books we read…or not ;)
And here is a good article from the Hartford Courant about the importance of support groups for caregivers … http://touch.courant.com/#section/2225/article/p2p-76658911/