Thursday, April 12, 2007

Books Help Me See

One of my earliest memories is when my mother brought my new baby sister, Paula, home from the hospital. I was four-years-old. Soon to be five, but still four…

Up until that point, nothing really significant happened to me. Thankfully, I’m not one of those kids that are shackled by a horrific memory of something that happened to them in the first few years of their life. Nor am I one of those kids that have a ton of fond memories of being four. For whatever reason, the only thing I remember about being four is getting a new sister, watching cartoons, and being in Pre-K.

The memory of my father getting out of the car with Paula is not filled with vivid colors. The filed away images remind me of a faded, worn picture. But the images are indeed there. Maybe not crystal clear, but strikingly significant.

Paula was absolutely beautiful! Her eyes had so much personality. I was immediately interested in being a great big sister. I wanted from the very start to be a positive influence on this gift from heaven. Even though my understanding was limited, I realized that a baby was precious and deserved the utmost protection and love.

The only other thing I can remember being interested in at that age was watching cartoons, playing with any toy I could get my hands on, and reading books. My mother, who was the most committed elementary school teacher that I have ever come in contact with, taught me how to read. She also taught me that reading could be fun, adventurous, and exciting. I believed her.

From the time I was four-years-old, my mother started stockpiling books in my room. I would read my books over and over, never getting bored with the characters, the illustrations, or the stories. I would sometimes get lost in the settings of the books. The words would jump off the page and hold me hostage until I inhaled every page.

Reading still has the same effect on me. When I start reading a book, I cannot put it down. That’s figuratively speaking… Although I can’t read with my eyes, I can still read with my ears. Audio books have become my friend. When I start listening to a book, I vanish from where I am and reappear in the pages of whatever I am reading.

Now that I am totally blind, I enjoy reading more than I ever have. Reading is like watching a great movie. Watching movies are not always as fun. So many visual components of a movie. But a book offers me descriptions of the characters, the setting, and the movements of the actors of the book.

Reading a book gives me the chance to see again. Isn’t that groovy! Thank God for books!


Heber Brown, III said...

Amen to this post! I love books as well. I always make sure to have a book on me when I'm going about my daily routine. (You never know when you'll get a moment to plop down and crack the pages.) I love the feeling of textured pages on my fingertips, the smell of a new book from my favorite book store (Everyone's Place on North Ave./Baltimore) and the sense of enlightenment or accomplishment I feel once I read the last page. I have several hundred books in my personal library and my plan is to have enough for my family to start a library once I die. I'll never forget walking through W.E.B. Dubois' personal library at his last earthly home in Ghana. Looking at the books (some of which were 100 years old) that helped shape his thinking was a priceless experience.

Anonymous said...

I had a pretty good library of African American non-fiction books that I collected while I was in college. Last year, our house caught on fire three times due to electrical problems. In one of the fires, all of my books were destroyed. I was so sad.

I'm now rebuilding that library. But this time, I'm gathering fiction. That's not on purpose. It's just happening.