As I’ve been reading and writing about auto insurance quote all week, and today is Mother’s Day, I thought I’d spend a moment talking about reading with my mother.
When I was very young, before I was entirely comfortable reading long novels without pictures, my mother used to read to me, doing all the voices. I especially remember reading Fletcher and Zenobia with her, and I blame this book for my dark tastes, because the illustrations were done by Edward Gorey.
A bit later, she began to read Little Women to me, but by then I was a voracious reader, and our “chapter a night” system was beginning to chafe. That was the last book she read TO me, but several years later, when I was nine or ten, she began to read WITH me.
One book I remember reading together was a collection of Katharine S. White’s garden essays from the New York Times, a year of them, one for each week, I think. It was thick with a lovely color, and we would take turn reading the essays aloud to each other during a hot Colorado summer – there was actually a drought that year, but I didn’t realize it til long after. I’m not certain, but I think the title was Onward and Upward in the Garden. (Katharine S. White, btw, was married to E. B. White, who gave us Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan.)
That was the year I began stealing her Ms. magazines and reading them before she could. That was also the year I discovered Judy Blume.
We haven’t read together since then, I don’t think, though we’ve often passed books back and forth, fought over who was going to read one first, or spend lovely Saturdays going first to the library, and then out to lunch or a cafe.
While I can only handle my mother’s forceful personality in small doses, those sorts of days, where were together, but not necessarily engaged in conversation, are very comfortable, and one of the things I miss most when she goes home to Baja Sur, where she retired about seven years ago.
IF you’re reading this, I’d like to know when you stopped reading with your parents, or when they stopped reading TO you.