“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.”
- Groucho Marx
Lorelei Lab here. I was just hoping for something simple like
Treats. Bacon. Stuffie.
But Mom decided to write about books.
She didn't know what she would do without her books. Remember the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury? It was set in a dystopian future in which firemen intentionally burn any house in which a book is located because it's against the law to possess them. In the end, a fireman who had grown to love books escapes the city of quick, mindless but big-screen, reality-based entertainment, to find a small group of book-loving refugees banded together. Each person is assigned the memorization of one complete book -- Aristotle, Dickens, James Joyce, and more -- so the books will survive until society is ready to embrace them again
Reading for her was not just intellectual but embracive. She loved the way the spine of a book feels in the crook of her fingers. The smooth, hard end boards snug on either side of the pages are sewn together, their edges flush and perfect. The smell of ink, the texture of a page as her fingers gently turn it.
Between two pages here is a photo of her Mother in her garden. Outside the window here now, a plant opens up, spilling forth its seed onto the soil. She remembered days of working in the flowerbeds that her Mom so lovingly maintained. After her death, She kept it going as long as she could for her Dad until adulthood called me away. As she toiled in the garden, the sun kissed the top of her head, the touch a benediction, a blessing.
Let the weather play God with her itinerary, let the tanker bringing in supplies break down somewhere, let the post sell the last bottle of whiskey, but if she'd laid up alone in the middle of nowhere after she busts a move down the Himalayas and breaks her leg, she wants a book. Curled up in strange places among a couple artifacts of family that get toted around in her suitcase, she may be lonely, but she will be content.
It's a big old paper dead tree book because she wants to hold something in her hand that feels alive, to me even if a living thing died to create its pages. It's words that form pictures, laid out upon a living thing that never slept, never dreamed of the soft perch of birds or the sharp blade of the ax, never mourned the tender leaves that it nourished and abandoned. It’s a piece of wood, that can be warmth, support, and shelter, or the perfect, pristine bed of memory laid down bare.
Her housework is put aside for at least an hour or two before bed and she'll pick up that book. She'll let it transport her to somewhere far away until a chime will toll for warriors, for battles won and those so easily lost. As her hand turns the pages, she will move among people who lived and died, or perhaps never existed at all, their shadows not of flesh or blood but of imagination, shadows as strong as finely honed steel and shadows as quiet as murmuring breath, forgotten until they were put upon paper.