Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It Was On Their Laps

I didn't get to celebrate either Mother's Day or Father's Day with my parents this year. Both holidays followed big events for me, and I came away rather under the weather. So, I've decided to dedicate a blog post to the two of them, in honor of one of the greatest gifts they gave to my brothers and me.

My parents are both scholars. There aren't many others that I've met that are as eager to learn as they are. Mom ended her brick-and-mortar based learning in her twenties and started a family, but she continued on her path of absorbing knowledge by becoming a teacher to all four of her children, a tutor to many others, and, most recently, a painter.

Dad continued his education into his thirties, but his pursuit of understanding didn't stop there. His whole business is about uncovering new layers of wisdom to solve the maladies of mankind. Each day is dedicated to learning something new.

Something my parents incorporated into their children is the love of learning, and most of all, the love of reading. My brothers and I would spend hours every day reading--Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, C.S. Lewis--a whole variety. But I think we'd all agree that our favorite times where when one of our parents would read out loud to us.

During the school year, every day after lunch, Mom would read for an hour (or two if we begged hard enough). We worked our way through Great Expectations, the Lord of the Rings series, all of Ralph Moody's books, and many others. Those hours spent lounging around all together in our living room are some of my most treasured childhood memories--Mom's voice growing raspy from reading longer than she really was able to, but just to please her voracious audience.

And then there were the evening reading times with Dad. They didn't happen as frequently, but they made up for the sparsity by the amount of laughter they caused. Dad always read the funny books--the ones you could read for an hour and feel exhausted afterwards. He read selections from James Herriot and Patrick McManus, generally. What I remember most is not the actual stories, but rather Dad seeing a funny line coming up and laughing until he choked. We'd laugh along with him with no clue of what we were laughing at. It would usually take him a minute of wheezing and snorting and thigh-slapping before we even knew what the punchline was, but we didn't care. We'd just laugh all the harder once we actually heard it.

I thank my parents for the truly beautiful memories I have from my childhood. They inspire me to do the same for my child--read until the tears of sorrow and laughter flow. There the best of memories are formed.

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