Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sharing a new, old book

This morning I'm doing lots of things for fancy. One favorite passion of mine is reading. I love used bookstores especially. My car brakes very hard for them.

I got this little paperback in July when I went to Sylva, North Carolina, a little small country town on the way to Pigeon Forge. For 50 cents, I got this book, really because it just looked like a good autobiography, which I love to read.

The name of it is Growing Up by the Pulitzer Prize winner Russell Baker. And, it's good reading so far. It's one of those books, you just don't want to put down. It was written in 1982.

On the back of the book is:

This is Russell Baker's story of growing up in America between the world wars--in the backwoods mountains of Virginia, in a New Jersey commuter town, and finally in the Depression-shadowed urban landscape of Baltimore. It is a story of adversity and courage, of the poignancy of love and the awkwardness of sex, or family bonds, and family tensions. We meet the people who influenced Baker's early life and the everyday heroes and heroines of the Depression who faced disaster with good cheer and usually muddled through. Every page has something wonderful.

I've only gotten a small part of it read yet but he has some wisdom I'd like to share in it. Chapter one starts out talking about his conversations with his mother at her bedside in her last days and she has dementia. He always tried to pull her back to the present but she would intermittently think she was at different ages in the distant past, when she was much happier.

He says, " Children rarely want to know who their parents were before they were parents, and when age finally stirs their curiosity, there is no parent left to tell them. "

And

"As I hovered over my mother's bed listening for muffled signals from her childhood, I realized that this same dispute had existed between her and me. When she was young, with life ahead of her, I had been her future and resented it. Instinctively, I wanted to break free, cease being a creature defined by her time, consign her future to the past, and create my own. Well, I had finally done that, and then with my own children I had seen my exciting future become their boring past."

And

" These hopeless end-of-the-line visits with my mother made me wish I had not thrown off my own past so carelessly. We all come from the past, and children ought to know what it was that went into their making, to know that life is a braided cord of humanity stretching up from time long gone, and that it cannot be defined by the span of a single journey from diaper to shroud"

Just some thoughts this morning to ponder.

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