There was a book on her nightstand the evening she died. A novel. She was halfway finished. Chapter eleven.
The old woman was a great reader. Reading was her thing. Her tranquilizer. Her therapy. The old woman’s bedroom was littered with mass-market paperbacks. Adventure novels, romances, humor, cheesy books that no literature buff would be caught dead holding in public unless enrolled in the Literature-Persons Protection Program.
The old woman was an English teacher. But that’s not how her love of reading began. Her journey began during a poverty stricken childhood, when the only things to do were to read library books and play cards.
As a girl she did plenty of that. She played LOTS of cards. She knew every card game in the book. They tell me she was vicious at the poker table. Each of her adult children still owe their mother roughly $7,000,000.
When the old woman was a girl, she helped raise her family after her mother died. Those were very different times, she was the
oldest daughter. No, it wasn’t fair. But it’s what people did.
Still, she never quit reading. She kept up her education by visiting libraries. Daily visits. And when her last sibling left home, the girl enrolled in college, availing herself to a much larger university library.
On her first day of college, she took an English course. It was love at first sentence. The woman knew she wanted to become a steward of the most beautiful, most audibly pleasing, most confusing, hardest to grasp, most ridiculously illogical language known to man.
After graduation, she taught English in high school. She hated it. Most students were more interested in pinching one another’s butts than they were in Shakespeare. She got a job teaching at a junior college for a little while. She hated that, too. So she quit.
She got married, made a family. But she couldn’t stay away from…