I saw where Tuesday was Happy National Book Lovers’ Day and since I am an ardent lover of books… I felt the need to take time to pay tribute to them today.
Monday I went to Wellmore to visit Ben -the residents’ first release day from their rooms since coronavirus showed up again among several home holders living there. When Ben can’t get outside to putt balls and interact with others he is miserable because it just leaves television for him and that gets old pretty quickly.
The “pre-stroke and pre-diagnosed cerebral vascular dementia” Ben -read constantly. As much as I read today… Ben out-read me in volumes. He loved espionage and spy books, war novels, and mystery novels-he has read the complete set of all the Sherlock Holmes books numerous times since he first read them at twelve.
And now he has stopped reading. I saw our mother ( who also had cerebral vascular dementia) go through the same heart-breaking transition. Even before mother was diagnosed… her reading began to slow down. Whereas I would check out two new books a week for her… she wasn’t even finishing one.
I remember asking her about it and she told me she couldn’t remember what she had just read so by the time she picked the book up again she had to go back and re-read what she had just read. Too frustrating… and no doubt.. also heart/breaking since books had always been her best friends and brought her so much pleasure.
*** I feel sure this is what is happening to Ben now because if he had been able to read books during the quarantine it would have been a much easier ” lock-in.”
As much as living with the up’s and down’s of cancer is no picnic… dementia is so much worse… watching a loved one leave you in bits and pieces and frustration. Ben describes people to me now… but try as hard as he can… he simply can’t pull a proper noun… a person’s name is becoming more elusive every day.
Most of us ” baby boomers” who spent our early childhoods growing up in the fifties-became ardent book readers out of necessity. When the polio epidemic hit one summer-public swimming pools were closed as well as recreational centers so the highlight for our family was going to the mobile library once a week-the library staff would roll the books onto the sidewalks every Saturday, separated by ages and reading levels for numbered off groups of children to select 2 books apiece.
I remember it was the only time we were up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to get at the front of the line to get the new books and the popular ones to re-read. The polio epidemic probably created more lifetime readers than given credit for back then.
I am so glad Ben wrote his book about his experiences in Vietnam when he did because he now seems more reluctant to do book talks on it to the residents -the book talks that have been very popular… because he is now struggling to remember parts of it enough to answer questions… and before … that was the one thing that excited him the most!
The magic in reading is when the words leave the page and the images in our minds create the characters in the story
So until tomorrow… Never take reading for granted… it is a gift worthy of life itself because it shows us how connected we all are in our thoughts and feelings as a human race in our quest for love and belonging.
Today is my favorite day -Winnie the Pooh