Today is my sweet mother’s birthday—she would have been 93 years old. Although I miss her every day, she left me with such a beautiful legacy—my love of reading.
My mother was an avid reader, and I was often the happy recipient of her uncanny ability to bring a story to life. I would sit comfortably on her lap or plopped cross-legged on the floor in front of her chair to be whisked away to a faraway magical land.
The Velveteen Rabbit. I was utterly engrossed in every word of Margery Williams’ delightful tale, allowing my young mind to imagine the well-worn little rabbit snuggling with the boy or his deep conversations with the Skin Horse. “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” Of course, this one quote opened up an entire world of fantasy for me. If this were true, then my entire stuffed animal and doll collections had the potential to become real also. It was a life-changing concept for an imaginative seven-year-old.
And then there was The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen. Tears always appeared in my eyes when my mother read of how the little duckling was ostracized by his siblings and other farm animals simply because he was different. The redeeming finale of ugly duckling transformed into beautiful swan never failed to bring a round of cheers.
Of course, Cinderella was my hero, both while she was a mistreated young stepsister and later when she became a lovely princess. I knew that all things were possible when one simply believed because Cinderella said so. Besides, she had Gus the mouse to substantiate her claims.
There was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and a score of other classics never to be forgotten and first introduced to me by my mother. I’m still reaping a blessed return on her incredible investment.