The Way I See it: Share the gift of reading

My Aunt Vicki exuded enthusiasm and love. I was about six when I first met her and she embraced me in one of her robust hugs. Clutching me to her ample bosom and chatting away about what a wonderful little person I was captured by her loving spell.

She seemed to be always happy, she laughed lots, sang and hummed continuously,  played every instrument she could touch, hugged us lots and she was an amazing reader. She would read me bedtime stories in French, as this was her first language and I was visiting her in Quebec. They didn’t have any English books in their home. I didn’t care: it was the sound of her voice and the animated way she told the story that held my attention or when she spoke in a soft gentle way to lull me to dreamland.

Aunt Vicki and my Uncle Omer had a cottage on the St. Lawrence river where my dad and I would visit them. They would read to each other every afternoon sitting in the lawn swing. They took turns reading from their books and the listener would lay with their head in the lap of the reader, knees tucked up, their eyes staring at the clouds, the river or gently closed, listening to the words spoken, enjoying the sun’s warmth. I found this quite fascinating and would sit by the tree beside the lawn swing, listening to the story.  It was a lovely way to be together and often they would fall asleep. Napping was encouraged at that peaceful place.

When I see a couple reading to each other I think it is very romantic. One lying enjoying the story, listening carefully as their darling reads to them in their familiar comfortable voice. It may be a novel, favourite poems, a biography and it is a way to share and connect.

People used to read to each other more often then we do now.

Children delight in story time and I think us taller folks have something to learn from our children. There are some wonderful readers who can change voices and emphasis to capture our attention and help take us to that magic place of story land where our mind creates what the words are describing.

Stuart McLean is a wonderful storyteller and many of us make certain our radios are on CBC at noon on Sunday’s to hear more about the adventures of Dave and Morley, or now we can hear more of the favourites during the week. His shows usually sellout and I think it is charming story-telling that fills the seats.

I love books to read, and to share them, and I never feel alone when I have a book in hand. Opening the pages and as I read my head fills up with the company of the characters. I missed out on meeting Harrison Ford when I was 25, one of my true loves, because I had to finish a good book. Who knows what might have happened if I had closed the cover, alas we will never know.

During the last week that I was able to spend with Mom before she died, I read to her every day from a book that her sister had written many years before called A Lucky Number. It was based on their mom and it is a funny, warm story of simpler times. I would crawl up into her bed beside her, or sit with her in the sun room and we would enjoy the story together. I loved this way of being together and I know she enjoyed it as well. That story from long ago was easier for her to remember than the month before. Sometimes we both fell asleep, or would drift off into conversation about some memory the story reminded us of.

This Valentine’s Day  as you consider what to give your sweetheart perhaps you will consider a book as your gift, and then read it to them, or ask for them to read it to you. It will be time together with phones, and TV off, perhaps some soft music and in a comfortable setting, sharing something you can love with the one you love.

Michele Blais is a Vernon Realtor and a longtime columnist for The Morning Star, writing on a variety of topics, and appearing every other Sunday.

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