"There is a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree that struggles to reach the sky." - Betty Smith
When I was a little girl one of my favorite things to do was grab a book off of my grandma's bookshelf. One would think that I would grab a book and begin to read, but it was never that simple.
First, I would grab the book and then the fun would begin. I would take the book to my grandma and ask her about it. What is it about? Whose was it? Why does she have it? Has she read it? How many times? Should I read it? Will I like it? And the list goes on. As you may have guessed I was an inquiring child. I loved to talk, I loved to ask questions and I could do both for a long, long time - usually until someone asked me to stop or told me to go outside. However, when it came to her books my grandma was infinitely patient. She would answer my questions, no matter how many there were.
See, she was a reader. She understood. She always fostered a love of reading in me (and my dear cousins, most notably Lorinda with whom I have much in common).
When I look back on those times with my grandma I do so with gratitude. No book was ever off limits. No book too hard, too old, too anything. They were books and her idea was if I didn't like it/understand it/or even if I didn't posses the skills to read every word it was okay. I could either plow through, asking questions along the way or I could set it down and come back to it at a later time (Think about a seven or eight year old trying to read A Tale of Two Cities or East of Eden - YIKES).
One of my favorite memories of grandma was when I pulled a book off the shelf and brought it out and began my quest of knowledge with the seemingly never-ending questions. When I showed her the book she smiled and said it was perfect and that I would love it. I was about eight at the time and thrilled with her response. The book? A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. And I did love it.
The best part was that she said she wanted to read it with me. She knew it was beyond my reading level (just as A Tale of Two Cities was earlier) and she wanted me to enjoy the book so we spent the next few weeks reading it together. I would read aloud and she would read aloud. It was perfect. (Just thinking I haven't read this since high school, maybe it is time to take it off the shelf and give it another go. Splendid.)
Several years ago grandma gave me her copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It is one of my favorite possessions. I cherish it, but most of all I cherish the memories. I miss my grandma everyday, holding tight to her memory and loving the lifelong gifts she has given me.
I love you Grandma! Thank you!