Category Archives: Memories

Six Books

 

Me on the Argentine pampas in 1967.

Although this has been a difficult year for me in many ways, a year of loss, it has also been a year of reading. Since July, reading has been my solace and a way to honor the memory of my special reading mother.  I have read 91 books so far this year, unlike in1967 when I only read six books!

1967 was the year I was accepted into the American Field Service (now known as AFS Intercultural Programs) as an exchange student to Argentina. I spent a year there, which was an absolutely incredible life-defining experience. It was not an easy year, especially in those days before computers, cell phones, and instant world-wide communication with everyone you know!  Letters often took two weeks. Phone calls home were wildly expensive so I only made one call home during the entire year. I was far away from home and relatively isolated as I went through the inevitable culture shock and adjustments to my new language and my new family. But after four months, I could speak fairly well, began to dream in Spanish, worked hard to begin reading in Spanish, and became more and more fluent in the language over the year. It was an amazing experience, to state it simply.

But one of the most difficult things for me that year, as an avid/obsessed reader, was that I had little access to books (in English), and, of course, my reading focus needed to be on learning and reading in Spanish. So over that year, I only read 6 books in English. Those six books are seared into my memory because each one was like a little oasis in the desert of my reading that year. It was very hard for me NOT to be able to read much that year, and it made me appreciate deeply the freedom of my yearly reading experience ever since. However, giving up reading-like-crazy for a year in order to have the experience of a lifetime…was so worth it!

Here are those six books:

 

 

October Reflections 2018

 

As Anne says in L. M. Montgomery’s timeless classic, Anne of Green Gables,  “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  This October was a particularly beautiful one here in Oregon! It was also a wonderful reading month for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my reading for the Readers Imbibing Peril-XIII challenge, and Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-thon.  Here are the covers of books read during this very successful reading month for me:

My husband and I also did a little bit of traveling this month. We spent a couple of days in the Seattle area where I met with my former teaching teammates and had a wonderful reunion lunch while Byron went on a bike ride. Also while in the area, he and I visited our favorite garden center, and the Yakima Fruit Market, and went out to eat at three of our old favorite restaurants. It was a great get-away!

We also spent a couple of days hiking in Silver Falls State Park. We enjoyed our first hike there so much we returned a week later and brought our daughter with us. We all loved hiking amongst  gorgeous the autumn colors.

So all in all, it was a just a great October!

She lives in my heart and mind…

My mother’s Celebration of Life was held last Saturday and it was lovely. It turned out to be a perfect day weather-wise and the location in the Rose House at Red Butte Garden, looking out at the Rose Garden and my father’s memorial bench, was perfect, as well. My three brothers and I each spoke about her, and one of my sisters-in-law read some of my grandmother’s poetry. My oldest brother played “Amazing Grace” on his alto flute, and then we all visited with many friends and cousins, enjoying the beauty of the Garden, and saying goodbye, each in our own way, to this beautiful, amazing woman.  She wrote the words in the caption to the photo below, words about her own mother. They say it so well for me, too!

“She lives in my heart and mind. Not always consciously, but she is so much a part of me that I can feel her with me always…”

I’ve shared a lot with you about my mother and recently about losing her. She was an integral part of this blog right from the beginning in 2007, was my focused audience for much of my writing, and was also a contributor with her own book reviews. It was another way for us to share our passion for reading with each other, and with you. I still have things she wrote in the last few years with this blog in mind, so I will continue to occasionally post about her and share those book responses as I return to my full-time blogging.

You have all been so kind in your thoughts and comments to me during this time of loss and mourning and celebration of a life well-lived, and I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

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My Best Friend

Forty-nine years ago today, I married my best friend. He and I were, and still are, kindred spirits. Both of us felt that kinship when we first met, but we also had proof sitting on our respective book shelves. Each of us owned a very old book from the same set of books….one on his shelf and a matching volume on mine. His was Pride and Prejudice (Reader, need I say more?), and mine was Silas Marner. For that reason, and of course many others, we decided WE were meant to be.

Happy Birthday to my Mom

I am missing my Mom today…it’s her birthday and she would have been 99 years old! We lost her just three weeks ago, so celebrating her birthday today is a mixture of sadness and joy–she  lived life to the fullest and left us with so many joyful memories!

After my Father passed away twenty-four years ago, I started a list of “Would Haves” because there were so many times when my brothers and I would say, “He would have loved this…or that.” I haven’t started a similar list for my Mother yet, but I will need to soon because there are already things happening that she would have liked! One thing for sure that will be on that list is  the upcoming September release of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new book, Leadership in Turbulent Times. That one would have been number one on her TBR list!

Happy birthday to my beautiful Mom, my special friend. I miss you!

Preparing for Book Club Discussions

The two photos above show how my Mom prepared for book club discussions. I brought these two books home with me after she passed away three weeks ago, and I will never move the colored tabs she put there because they are such a delight to see! This is the way she always prepared for her book club, whether the one she lead at the Mt. Olympus Senior Center for 14 years, or for the local library book club that came once a month to her assisted living facility. She loved to read and talk about books, and she prepared well for the group discussions often reading the book twice, always marking the important points she wanted to remember.

July Reading Reflections

My reading reflections for July are about my mother, since I spent three weeks of July with her at the end of her life. I am home now, tying up lose ends, returning slowly to routines, and trying to get used to life without her. But despite my sadness, there is also so much to comfort me — loving family and friends, many many happy memories, and an overwhelming pride in her for how she handled her life, especially life after my father passed 24 years ago, and especially again at the end. She showed great courage and dignity throughout it all, and I’m so proud to be her daughter.

The photo above is a list of the books she read in 2018. She read and listened to 10 books (including volumes 1-4 of the Harry Potter series) and  was also in the middle of three other books when she fell ill:  she was listening to the audiobook of Shanghai Girls, and reading the Kindle version of Dreams of Joy, both books by Lisa See, an author she loved; and she was in the middle of the Whitmore Library Book Club choice for July, a title I don’t remember now. At almost 99 years old, she was an avid reader to the end!

The Butterfly Garden

This is the shady part of our butterfly garden…

While we spent the last three weeks with my mother, our daughter watered our gardens and kept everything alive despite the 90-100 degree temperatures. It was a huge job, but we were delighted upon our return home to find our butterfly garden in full bloom and full of bees and butterflies!

I want to share with you a poster I saw and just loved at Red Butte Garden, in Salt Lake City, where we have my father’s memorial bench, and where we will soon hold my mother’s Celebration of Life and add a plaque to the bench in memory of her.

My Reading Hour

What to do with that hour each day that was set aside for wonderful long phones conversations with my Mom?  I’ve decided that for the next little while I will take that same hour (mid-afternoon) and call it my reading hour. Seems so right to fill that emptiness with books in memory of my loving Reading Buddy. She’d like that, I’m sure. And so will I!!

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My Reading Buddy

When I started this blog in 2007, I dedicated it to my father “who would have loved this new way of communicating,” but wrote my posts with my mother in mind as my primary audience. Both my parents were avid readers, especially of history, and they instilled in me a deep love of reading. They supported my book obsessions from very early on — we made weekly trips to the library; my father would buy me a new book when I finished another book in a series; gifts were almost always books; and there was always book talk happening in our household.

I was living 800 miles away when my father passed away twenty-four years ago, so it was at that time that my mother and I began to talk with each other on the phone every day. Our talks became our afternoon ritual, and over the years and despite the distance, our relationship grew closer and closer. Yes, we talked about the daily happenings of our lives, but we also shared long conversations about the books we were reading or had heard about. I called her my “reading buddy.”

So as my blog became an important part of my life, my mother joined in with me to write posts and share what she was reading. The blog became another way to communicate with each other about our shared love of reading.

Six days ago, my mother passed away. She was three weeks short of her 99th birthday and had lived a full and wonderful life. Her decline was swift and timed almost to perfection — my family had gathered together for our yearly reunion. She was thrilled that we were all together again, and we filled the first few days with our lively conversations and good food. When she became ill suddenly, we all took turns staying with her at night, and we worked together to make her as comfortable as possible during the day. She didn’t linger, and although none of us was with her at the moment of her death, she knew that she was surrounded by loving family.

My husband and I drove back home yesterday, and brought with us some of her books, paintings, and special treasures to remember her. All afternoon, I kept having these habit-urges to pick up the phone and call her to let her know we were home safe, to tell her what book arrived in the mail while we were gone. It’s going to be so different without her.

But, I know that I have been the most fortunate person on the planet to have such a loving mother/friend/reading buddy. And there are so many fun and wonderful memories to keep her alive in my heart, forever.

She loved the book blogging community, visited many of your blogs, and knew many of you by your first name. So as you write your posts and share your love of reading with all of us, please remember for a moment that you touch hearts in ways you might not be aware of…that your passion for reading brings joy to young and old…and that sharing a book is an act of love.