Charles William Eliot said, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” Throughout my life, books have been a constant. I grew up on my grandparents’ farm, surrounded by reading. Whether it was Grammie reading cookbooks or her Bible, or Grampa reading a Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour western, I grew to understand that books were powerful.
And sometimes they help you express the things you want to say when you have no words of your own.
My 93-year-old grandfather passed away this week. Yesterday we had his funeral service. I wanted to share what he has meant to me, but the thought of that was admittedly overwhelming. So I turned to what I knew- books.
A few years ago I was at a book signing event with Lynn Plourde and I picked up her book, Thank You, Grandpa (2003).
Having a close relationship with my grandfather, the title and the artwork (by Jason Cockcroft) immediately drew me in and I read the entire story while standing in the signing line. Thank goodness the line was long, because it gave me a chance to dry my eyes by the time I got to the front of it to have Lynn sign my copy.
I brought it home and it sat on my bookshelf for four years. As strange as it sounds, it was a book that brought me comfort just by knowing it was there. You see, I had plans for that book. Plans that I didn’t want to confront until the time came when I had to.
Yesterday it was time. I shared it with those gathered to celebrate my Grampa’s life. When I failed to find words to convey what was in my heart, that book gave me strength. I took a deep breath and began to read aloud. The more I read, the stronger I felt. Lynn’s book enabled me to find my voice for the man I loved so dearly.
I am so thankful I was raised by those who valued reading and saw it as important and life-changing. It continues to sustain me through difficult times. Books remain a constant for me, even when life tosses me around. For that, I am grateful.
Grampa, “I love you and I’ll miss you. But I will never forget you. Thank you and good-bye.”