Reading to my grandson brings back memories of reading stories to my daughters when they were young. I read to them from the time they were born just to have words and sounds to share with them. As they grew, I chose stories I knew they would love that they would not be able to read on their own, starting with J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit. Each night before bed we would read a new chapter. As the story unfolded they got to where they could hardly wait for bedtime!
When we finished The Hobbit, they were sort of disappointed. It was like we had shared something special that had come to an end. What they did not know was I had C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe waiting on the bookshelf. In what seemed like no time at all we had gone through all six books of The Chronicles of Narnia. I found out years later that my oldest daughter kept this collection. Now that she has a son, one of my favorite pastimes is reading to him. He loves stories and books, and I always bring him gifts of books I think he will like. From a young age, it was music to my ears when he would say to me at bedtime, “Papa Mike, read me a story.”
At an early age my grandson became fascinated with stories about the Titanic. He repeatedly watched the National Geographic video about Dr. Robert Ballard and his mission to discover the shipwreck. He committed so much detail to memory that he could lecture to an oceanography class about the challenges of deep sea exploration. So I got him a copy of James Steele’s Queen Mary, a technical history of the storied ocean liner, knowing that he might one day actually set foot aboard this ship if his travels include a stop in Long Beach, California.
This week I started reading him a new story via Skype™, Douglas Floen’s Knowing Noah: The Adventures of a Mouse Who Could Read. I realize each time I talk with him how much brighter, more communicative, and more knowledgeable he is compared to our previous conversation. As he becomes more sophisticated and more his own person, I also feel myself loving him and missing him more than ever.
It is a fact of life that living and traveling abroad puts great distance between loved ones. It is that connection that prevents some people from ever venturing far from home. It is the little things like sharing stories with grandchildren that enrich our lives and create bonds that last a lifetime. So when we connect via Skype™ and he says those words to me, “Papa, read me a story,” it brings me back to a time many years ago when I shared something special with my girls. And soon, it will be my grandson’s turn to hear The Chronicles of Narnia. I can hardly wait.