One of my favorite poems is "The Reading Mother" by Strickland Gillilan (1869-1954). You know, the one that ends with the lines "You may have tangible wealth untold /Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold /Richer than I you can never be / I had a Mother who read to me."
Growing up, ours was not a house filled to the rafters with books - unless they were in my bedroom. My parents weren't avid readers and to this day, my mother is probably good for reading two - maybe three - books a year. I don't remember my Dad reading anything other than two newspapers a day or the latest issue of Popular Mechanics. So I'm not quite sure, exactly, where my love of reading came from. Make no mistake, though ... my brother and I were definitely encouraged to read.
a fan letter to author Carolyn Haywood (pictured at left).
I also remember one library book that apparently made an impression on my mom, because she was glued to every word. As if it was yesterday, I remember sitting on the sofa with my mom in our Northeast Philadelphia twin rancher home, asking non-stop if I could read her book. I've never been able to find it since. It was about a boy named Gideon - I'm pretty sure his name was Gideon, or maybe something close - who may or may not have had some learning challenges. A beige cover is in my mind. Ring any bells, anyone? This would have occurred in the mid 1970s.
Anyway, with this being the Mother's Day edition of The Sunday Salon, I wanted to give a special Mother's Day thank you to my mom for teaching me how to read at age 3, taking me to the library, and still - as a reader of this blog - always encouraging my love of reading and writing.
I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me.