My fall was defined by the death of my beloved Grandmother. A few days ago was the 25th anniversary of the death of my Grandfather. She never remarried, never dated, never took off her ring, never stopped referring to herself occasionally as Mrs. His Name. Every year of my adulthood I called her on that day. It felt empty to not have that moment to honor her lasting commitment to him. This is why I read Romance. Why I write it. Why I watch it. Because occasionally, true love does happen and it truly does last for a lifetime.
I thought I would mark my return to the blog with sharing the tribute I wrote for my grandmother's memorial. I would not be the reader I am today without her. Indeed, I found it difficult to contemplate blogging about books again without honoring her :
A Patchwork of Books
My Nana will live on in the stories that I and my mother tell my children about the remarkable life of the indomitable Great-Nanny. While my mother plies Miss T with stories about Nana’s early years (“Tell me again about little Great-Nanny in the Big City!”), most of my stories and memories of Nana center around books. In my mind she will live on in the scent of old books, the weight of a library bag filled with treasures, the unexpected gem waiting on crowded shelves, the low, warm glow of a bedtime reading lamp, and the taste of tea sipped while listening to stories.
I would not be the person I am today without my summer visits to stay with Nana. Every visit, we would wake up my first morning in New York to eat raisin bran and coffee cake juniors before heading to the library. On my earliest visit, we spent the morning in the tiny red used book shop she owned before heading to the library. That she was in possession of such a treasure trove elevated her to super hero status. The whip of air filled with car exhaust and exotic pizza and Chinese food scents and the hum of traffic along her busy street always let me know I’d arrived far from my tiny Midwestern town. The day I was allowed to make the three block trek on my own as a young teen was not unlike the rush most teens get sliding behind the wheel for the first time.
However, my favorite memories are the times she would take me. Several years she signed me up for the summer reading program. She was proud of her town's library renovation in a way that only an active supporter of the library could be, letting me explore the stacks to my heart’s content. She helped me find the books of her childhood and ones she’d read to my mother as well as unexpected discoveries for both of us. The summer she read me the Borrowers series is one of my most treasured memories. She had a screen house in the backyard that year, forever linking the little people with the scent of Avon bug repellant for me.
I checked out the picture book, The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy, enough times to dog ear the pages on my own. Nana loved reading me the gentle story of the grandmother who made a quilt of her memories for her granddaughter. For me, Nana’s life is a patchwork of stories—the ones she would tell and the ones she helped me discover. Many of my favorite authors were discovered the year my uncle brought boxes and of paperbacks to live temporarily in Nana’s fireplace room. Lazy summer days spent in her guestroom with stacks of books, rustling plastic library covers and candy-box paperbacks littering the pink spread, were among the happiest moments of my adolescence.
I will see her every time I take Miss T and Mighty Z to the library, every time I read them stories with her gentle voice echoing in my head, every time I support the cause of literacy and public libraries, and every time I read myself to sleep thinking of the years I would pass by her room or by her chair, discovering her asleep with the light on, book on her chest. My memories are a patchwork of colorful book covers, of a house filled to the brim with books waiting for readers, and of a woman never too busy to uncover a great tale.