Sharing the joy

It happened again this morning. My breakfast coffee grew cold, my cereal soggy. I  blame the book.

Living alone, I find companionship in reading with my meals. Mostly it’s the daily newspaper, whose fleeting pleasures I ration through the day, sports, comics, and obits at breakfast, the A section with lunch. No newspaper lands in my driveway on Saturdays, so I turn to my book.

This pandemic has walked me through the pleasures of eight or nine books so far, offering a delightful variety of subjects and writing styles, each pleasurable in its own way. Just now, it’s “Home,” by Marilynne Robinson, the novel a Father’s Day gift from a thoughtful daughter. When I learned that this story serves as a sequel to the author’s “Gilead,” which won the Pulitzer Prize,” I set “Home” aside and read “Gilead” first.

What a treat. Oh my. One understands why Pulitzer judges were impressed. Robinson’s relaxed, conversational prose draws one into its embrace as a family welcomes its member back from a long trip. We see and hear her characters as if they are our own sisters, brothers, parents, neighbors. Unexceptional people. Like us. They live. We care about them.

This author’s writing style differs from the others’ I have enjoyed these past several weeks, but all of them have drawn me into their stories skillfully, lovingly.

“Home,” probably more than some others, underscores my conviction that every person has a story, each of us is a story. That’s why I encourage my friends to write their memoirs, share stories of their lives with their children and grandchildren. Help them to understand who you were and are, where they came from. Show them.

One need not be a writer as skillful as Marilynne Robinson to do this. Dig out an old photo album, and as you slowly turn its pages, laugh, wipe away an occasional tear as you revisit those moments in years past. As you look,  jot down the precious memories these old pictures evoke. This is how we start.

Write your story. Share your joy. You couldn’t give your loved ones — and yourself — a more perfect gift.





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