I grew up with parents that loved to read. Books filled every apartment we ever lived in. Every time we moved, my dad would mount those modular shelves on the wall, stepping back every couple of minutes making sure they were level, each shelf equidistant from the others. Mommy would pull the books from the re-purposed egg boxes we collected from the back of the Winn Dixie, and she passed them to Daddy, each book handled like a jewel being pulled from a treasure chest. Our place never really felt quite like home until those treasures were on display.
I think more than books, my parents loved stories. My mom would tell us tales of her life with the nuns at boarding school in Dublin. She spoke of living in Nyasaland and other parts of Africa. She shared stories of her early years in India and how she only spoke Hindustani until she was three. Her life seemed like a fairytale, minus the fairy godmother. Honestly, if her story was ever written, the publisher would think twice about categorizing it as nonfiction. Her life was filled with color, exotic smells, exciting adventures, and amazing people.
My father, well, his stories were fiction. He could craft a tale beautifully, and when he told them, he was in no hurry. As those words flowed from his deep southern well of a voice, they created vivid works of art in the studio of my mind. I could see every tree, every character, every color. I loved those moments. At age eleven those stories stopped. I miss those stories. I so wish my children had a chance to hear them and to meet the storyteller.
Last year my mom shared the sweetest memory with me. When she and my dad were newly married, they would lay in bed at night, and my mom would ask him to tell her a story. I asked her why, and she told me, “I felt sad that the day was over, and I just didn’t want it to end.” I love that about her.
Daddy would tell her one every night that she asked. Each tale involved a magic red carpet. Tenderly, he kept creating fantastic stories until she fell asleep in his arms. In her sweet Irish accent she said to me, “Oh Susie, I loved listening to those stories. The timbre of his voice was so beautiful. He really did have such a lovely voice.”
I loved the stories my parents read to me from those books that rested on the shelves of our home. I loved the stories that came from the memories of their past and those created from their abundant imaginations. Those stories shaped me.
And what I love right now is that many years later, my mom is still telling me stories.