There are moments in our lives that at the time appear inconsequential, just something that happened in the course of our daily life. It may be years or even decades later before we realize how pivotal those moments were in retrospect.
For example, my father passed away from a massive heart attack while fishing just two weeks before my seventh birthday. Now, don’t worry, I knew at the time that was a major deal, a pivotal time. However, that only leads up to the moment I really want to share as an example.
About two years later my mother, brother, and I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina during the summer before I was to enter the fourth grade. Within a matter of days, my brother found other kids his own age and was off playing with them leaving his little brother behind with no one to play with except good ol’ mom. Of course, mom was doing her best to get us moved into the new house and had little time to come out and play with her youngest son. But that didn’t keep me from begging and pleading on a daily basis for her to come to play with me.
Fortunately for both of us our next-door neighbor, Mrs. Crabtree, witnessed all of this and a few days later brought home a stack of books hand-picked for a boy my age. You see, Mrs. Crabtree just happened to be the children’s librarian at the Olivia Rainey Library downtown.
“Perhaps your son will enjoy a few of these,” she said as she handed them to my mother. Thus started a new twist to the game mom and I were playing. Whenever I would plead with my mom to come out to play with me which again occurred frequently throughout the day, mom would point to the stack of books still sitting on our living room coffee table.
“Why not try reading one of those first,” she would suggest, then refuse to come outdoors until I followed her ‘suggestion.’ Of course, back in those days I could be pretty stubborn, a quality I’ve well-honed through the years. So I declined to follow her suggestion. After all, I couldn’t believe anyone would expect me to read anything during the summertime. Reading was a necessary evil of going to school, but surely not during summer break.
However, every time I asked her to come out to play she would simply point to the books. I learned that summer where I had gotten my stubborn streak—from dear old mom.
Finally, in utter frustration, I picked up the top book from the stack and started reading and much to my surprise found it pretty good. In fact, I finished the whole book, then picked up the next one and the next one. Within a matter of days, a new world opened up for me. Actually, I discovered several new worlds as each book revealed its own secrets and magic to this young boy’s imagination.
That summer I became a joyful lifelong reader. Did I realize at the time how consequential and pivotal that summer was for me? Of course not. It would take me close to sixty more years for that to happen. But that will have to wait until Friday when I share the rest of the story.