My mother read to her children often and always. We didn't have a lot of extras growing up but we knew we were loved and we had books. It wasn't until much later in my life that I realized my mother never read for her own pleasure. She worked. She baked. She sewed. She volunteered. But, other than her Bible, she didn't read.
Now that she's retired, she reads and loves it. She'll read just about anything I recommend (and mail to her), and I enjoy being able to discuss books with her long-distance. Just the other day she commented about a book I'd sent her. "I feel sorta dumb when I read it," she said. "She uses so many words I've never heard of." I'd read it too and agreed. "That's what's great about reading. You can always learn new words," I said.
Recently Susan and I had lunch and we talked at length about passions and purpose and life and other issues. Then at church the following Sunday, I scribbled on my bulletin a few prompts for my life. One was: Volunteer at the retirement center.
My college freshman boy had volunteered at a neighborhood retirement community and loved it. He played beanbag baseball with the residents and faithfully attended each week. Now that he's miles away and can no longer go, I decided to pick up the baton he regretfully laid down.
|We have a logo--it's official.|
After meeting with the activity director, we determined a good fit for my interests and their needs would be to start a book club. I thought At Home in Mitford would be a perfect choice--small southern setting, an elderly Episcopal priest as main character. I came home and ordered books--some in large print--and waited for them to arrive. When I had 12 copies to deliver, I met with the leaders of the women's group and together we discussed logistics. The four women quickly picked up their copies (all large print, I noticed) and one asked about getting an audio version. "I love to listen to books as I knit," she said. A passer-by mentioned that she only listens to books since she's legally blind. (Point taken and audio book ordered as soon as I returned home.)
Then we discussed future titles. I'd culled some from my shelves and pitched them to my new friends. We agreed on two more for November and December: Same Kind of Different as Me and Welcome to the Great Mysterious. (As an aside, my mother has read all three titles!) I asked what other books they enjoy and was a little surprised at their responses. Mysteries! Stephen King! Second point taken and more variety certainly forthcoming. I also told them about Julie's book and they can't wait to read it too.
Last Thursday I had lunch with all the residents (average age is 82), pitched my club and left a sign-up sheet and the books in their library. On my way home I stopped by Goodwill and purchased two armloads of large-print books (some mysteries and one Stephen King) to add to their library. Now I'm on the lookout for audio books too.
I'm looking forward to our first meeting in a couple weeks and regret that two people can't be in attendance: my mother and my boy. But they'll both be with me in spirit and I thank them for inspiring this venture. I find it interesting how life unfolds. How a 17-year-old boy and his 74-year-old grandmother can inspire this 40-something writer to get together with a group of seniors who are destined to become my new friends.