Libraries and My Nana
In honor of National Library Week, I am dedicating this post to all librarians. Thank you.
I had the good fortune to be born into a family of readers. And not just any readers, but unabashed, voracious readers- readers who embrace all types of stories, whether they were classical works of fiction or the latest horror story. My childhood was an amalgam of the Bronte Sisters and Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jean Paul Sartre and John Irving, Stephen King and Jane Austen. While we bought many books, we relied heavily on our local libraries to feed this hunger for stories.
My own mother nurtured this habit of reading, filling a wall in our house with books, picking up used books at yard sales and buying me books for gifts- I still have the complete works of Lewis Carroll in my bookcase, a gift from my mom when I was thirteen. I stuck a "Laura" sticker on the inside fly leaf- my love of Carroll's satire existing simultaneously with my love of stickers. Doesn't everybody's?
My mother learned her own love of reading from her mother, Clarissa Roddy, my Nana. My Nana and Grandpa had a summer house in Brant Rock, MA and my childhood is steeped in memories from the time we spent there with them and my amazing aunts, uncles, cousins, second-cousins, first cousins once removed... you get the picture. It is a tiny cape cod, built from a kit delivered from the Sears catalog, at least that was the story I was told- two small bedrooms downstairs, and the upstairs, beds from one end to the other. And there on the first floor, next to the couch, was a bookcase, overflowing with books for the taking and reading.
Going to the beach with Nana meant packing your beach bag with a book. I cannot remember a time when she wasn't halfway through one book and possibly already started with another. Many of these books were books we, the reading family, brought to share. But Nana loved a good library. She always took care of her library books, though they might, just might, have had a little sand in them after she was through.
The summer after she passed away I was at the cottage and noticed that there was a pile of library books in the corner. I scooped them up and drove to the Library in Marshfield- it was our local branch, and brought them to the librarians at the front desk, apologizing for the lateness in the return. As the librarian scanned the books, she stared at her computer screen for a minute- and then looked at me and said, "We loved Clarissa. She was such a great reader," Then we all had a good cry.