Let me present a very silly picture taken of myself all in fun on the day that my hair straightener broke while I talk to you about something that is on my heart.
You may have been following the news lately about my Dad having some neuro issues. We now have a diagnosis; our unknowns are now plans and appointments and treatment of symptoms. Thank you all for your amazing encouragement and support. I am so fortunate to call you friends.
So we were at an appointment together a few days ago – we were in the waiting room and he got SO EXCITED because there were magazines in there. His excitement was almost funny and I did chuckle. Now, you and I know that often waiting rooms have outdated magazines so I didn’t quite get the excitement. He was like HAND ME THAT ONE! THAT ONE! OVER THERE! He didn’t really care which magazine it was “as long as it has pictures in it” — and I was like, hmm, okay, let’s explore this a little bit.
Sidenote: Dad has always been a reader. He’s the one that took me to the library as a child, every other weekend when I was at his house. This is one of the biggest reasons that I am such a big reader today and such a large library advocate. I’ve seen him countless times in his recliner in blue jeans and thick socks, with mass market paperbacks and a glass of milk (it was just his thing, let’s go with it) and this was like taxes or fireworks on the Fourth of July, a constant to me.
In the waiting room (very slow, short replies are a new normal, he isn’t being rude):
Me: Dad, what are you reading lately?
Me: Do you want me to take you to the library to check out some books?
Me: Dad, I would love to check out some for you and bring them to your house. Does this sound like something you would like?
Me: Why, Dad?
Dad: I can’t read the words. But I can look at the pictures.
Pause. Pause. Eyes stinging. Not going to cry.
Deep breath. Failing on the crying part because here’s a tear and here’s another.
Me: Dad, did you realize that we can check out books from the library that are mostly pictures? About anything you want to look at? Would you like THAT?
Dad: **lost in a magazine at this point**
(So there is an association that he is making with magazines as something that he can still do – but not books anymore – and this makes me sad.)
I blog about books and reading because I love reading, period. But how often do I stop and consider how precious my eyesight is? And how absolutely precious it is to pick up a book and easily understand what I’m reading without confusion? I have thought about these things before, to be honest, but in the wake of recent events these things are on my mind more and more. I have admitted openly on my Facebook feed to being more intentional about slowing down my life, slowing down my pace, living life more slowly. This change has not made my Dad’s recent diagnosis any easier, but it has been a wonderful change in my life; it only happened because I was able to see things from a different vantage point, from the perspective of someone that has no choice but to live much more slowly.
So how can I be more in tune to the needs of those with a life-long love of reading when things change for them? When their needs change? OH, MY HEART. Truthfully, I’m not at a place in my life right now where I can be in tune to the needs of multitudes of other life-long readers – I’m specifically speaking to the one recently added to my care at this point in time. But this is important to me + this perspective is so valuable for me for the rest of my life because GOSH, you guys, how often does this happen to people? To neighbors? To family members? To people at our churches, that we just walked by at Target last week and they were doing just fine? I’m guessing that, sadly, it happens more often than we would wish.
One more thing that has happened through this: I’m trying SO HARD to slow down my reading and enjoy the heck out of it. I want to squeeze everything I can out of every page, every scene, every character. Not every book begs to be read slowly and savored – some are meant to be quick reads! And I love those books! But some books are delicious stories and I want to treat them as such. I want to treat these eyes to see and these ears to hear (audiobooks) with even more respect than before, because I have seen what happens when someone faces losing the working parts of these senses.
Let me not be complacent about my reading. Let me be more intentional about these stories, devouring them as they should be. Thinking about them, talking about them, telling others about what I’ve read. Hey, friend, I finished a book today that I think you would enjoy! Can I tell you about it? Let me encourage you guys to do the same, as often you can! Life is precious, you guys, and these bodies and minds and eyes are so, so valuable.
This is NOT a sad blog post, really, and it isn’t me preaching to you guys. I want to share with you an A-Ha moment that I had because it was a bookish moment and it is changing my life and perspective and GOSH, BOOKISH FRIENDS, we’re all in this bookish thing together, and you all are the best at listening to these things.