Six months later

scan0001I don’t have an Armchair BEA post today, because I don’t have a giveaway (too disorganized) and I don’t read literary fiction (avoid like the plague!).

But there’s also another, sadder reason. My dad died six months ago today, nine months after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer. I’ve heard that it takes 3-6 months to get used to a major life change. If that’s true, or I guess, even if it’s not, I don’t really know yet the ways that this has changed me. But regardless, I wanted to share something about him today. And it seems both nice and appropriate to talk about my memories of my dad and reading.

Both of my parents really did everything they could to encourage the three of us to read. There were always books around and there are lots of stories of us (especially me, I think) demanding that the nearest adult read this one aloud. My first clear memory of books and reading is of sitting on my dad’s lap in our apartment in Indianapolis. We had been reading Wind in the Willows, but it was really a little too old for me (I would have been almost five) and I hadn’t been enjoying it very much.*

And so we sat together and my dad held the book so I could see the pictures, and he started reading Little House in the Big Woods. In some ways, this is my favorite memory of him: me, warm and comfortable while he read to me about Laura and Mary and their Pa, who had a beard too.

My dad had very specific and particular interests, which he read widely in. His copies of books are full of notes: underlining, stars, vehement approval, very vehement disapproval. He loved Church history, and books by Wendell Berry, anything nautical, especially Patrick O’Brian. But most especially what I remember is the sense that both he and my mother gave me: if you love something, you read about it. There are many things that he gave me which I’m grateful for, but that is at the top of the list.

papa in forest

* I swear, this early experience made me not love Wind in the Willows as much as I want to. I enjoy it, I even treasure it, but it’s not one of the formative books of my childhood the way it is for some people.

By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

15 replies on “Six months later”

Thanks, Amanda! There were definitely some rough things, but lots of good memories too.

Six months already; it doesn’t even seem possible. Thank you for the warm and charming memory of your father reading to you. It is delightful! I always enjoyed the Christmas gatherings at your home with the holiday songs, foods and readings!! Much love.

Such a beautiful post, Maureen! I think it’s great that your parents encouraged you and your siblings to read. My parents did the same with me and my brother. I can really relate to this post. I was home in Manila the past weekend and on Sunday, we dropped by the columbary where my dad’s ashes are kept because it was his sixth death anniversary. The day he passed away was the saddest day of my life. I would like to quote what Robin McKinely said when Diana Wynne Jones passed away:

“Everyone leaves a themselves-shaped hole when they go, and we all feel it, whether we know or recognise the individual holes or not. No one is an island, as John Donne almost said, each human death diminishes me. But Diana was a bigger piece of the promontory than most. This is not the same world without her in it.”

There will always be a dad-shaped hole in my life but based on personal experience, time does help in letting you adjust to living with that kind of loss. Sending you hugs from Singapore!

Oh, that post by Robin McKinley always makes me cry! It’s such a beautiful, heartfelt expression of how much another person means. Thank you, Chachic. Hugs to you from Indiana!

Thank you, Elizabeth! Yes, it is hard to believe it’s six months already, but at the same time it seems so long ago.

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