You may have heard the expression, “Reading is Fundamental.” Well, for me not only is reading fundamental, it is as essential as air and water for my spirit. From my earliest years, books took me to wonderful places and introduced me to fascinating people. Even better than reading to myself, was reading aloud to others. This predilection led me from first grade class, to my children, to reading for the blind, and eventually reading to the dying. Therefore, with sincere apologies to Charles Dickens, I will tell you a Tale of Three Books.
Auntie D. was funny, outrageous, lively, and everything a favorite Aunt should be to a shy child. She loved to read and so did I. The Little Golden Book with three ducks on the cover, which I could not yet read and was the very first book that I could call my own, was a gift from her. Many years later, as Auntie D. rested quietly in bed under hospice care and no longer able to read, I read to her. She laughed a little.
After moving here, although still shy, I quickly made friends with someone who loved words. We would offer them to each other at dinner. It was great fun. Unfortunately, my friend’s vision was fading and health deteriorating. And so, we read together using my eyes and voice. The very last book we shared was “The Uncommon Reader” by Alan Bennett. It is charming, funny, and replete with unusual words that sent me to the dictionary.
Our Director of Resident Services asked if I would read to a resident in skilled nursing. She had a definite preference for Amish stories by Beverly Lewis. This was a new experience for me. We bonded over “The Shunning.” We talked about the decisions made by the characters. We talked about the Plain lifestyle. We talked. She relaxed. Then she was no more.
These are not sad stories. These three people lived long and fulfilling lives and I felt truly privileged to have been part of a most intimate time. They still live both on this page and in my heart.