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Monday, March 2, 2015

Passing the Torch

Today was a big day for my son. As I write and reflect, I am tearing up. No, he didn't go to school, learn to ride a bike, or even learn to wipe himself (is that day coming soon, though?). Today, he got his own library card.

When I was little, I spent a lot of time with my paternal grandparents. I even lived with them for a while during my parents' separations and ultimate divorce. My grandma is one of my top five favorite people in the world. I credit her with instilling in me a deep love of and respect for books and libraries.

Some of my fondest memories are of our trips to the library together. At the time, my grandparents only had one car and my grandpa had it with him for work, so if my grandma and I wanted to go anywhere, we took the bus. That, in and of itself, was a rad excursion for me. We'd walk to the bus stop together (my little legs struggling to keep up) and ride all the way to what seemed like a huge library. She let me pull the rope to ring the bell on the bus (exciting!) and we'd disembark and cross the busy street together.

Entering that library was like entering another world. It felt so grown-up, smelled so good, sounded so reverent, and represented everything good and right in the world to me. Outside, there was turmoil. Outside, there were appointments with counselors, parents together and not together and together and not together again, yelling, siblings who needed my protection and listening ear, and a general sense of uncertainty and pain. Inside, there were just books. Books and Grandma. She let me pick out whatever I wanted, she cared about what I chose, she brought me to her sections to see the grown-up books without pictures, she made me feel special and loved and secure.

Libraries and books and Grandma and all of that goodness are all wrapped up together. I would imagine she, to this day, doesn't have a clue what those times meant to me (and still mean to me). But as I sit here reflecting, lump in my throat and tears welling up, I know. I know what she did for me, what that library did for me, what those books did for me (and what books and libraries still do for me even now). So, when my son, right around the same age I was when those trips started, got his own library card today, it triggered so many feelings for me. He thinks it's cool. He's right. He thinks he's cool. He's right. He doesn't have any idea all that little rectangle of plastic means...for both of us. He will, though. He will.

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