Friday, March 13, 2009

Reading Your Daughter

My dad is a voracious reader. He carries several pens and a yellow highlighter in his pocket protector—always—so he can record his thoughts and underline key words. A quick perusal of his bookshelf will give you a glimpse into his interests: political, religious, and medical. He shares his vast knowledge on almost any subject with careful cross-referencing—handing me a book outlining the details of his argument.

I love it.

On this last trip, Dad gave me several books to read, one was titled, Taking Care of your Elderly Parents. My mom is shipping that one (I didn’t finish it!). But the one I adore is titled, Stein on Writing, with an inscription, “To Connie, with love, Dad!”


Dad didn’t know it at the time, but that’s the best gift he has ever given me (except for the letter he wrote to me shortly after I was married). It was a gift from the heart because Dad’s books are like his children—he doesn’t part with them (even if I ask politely!). This, however, was even more poignant because he gave it freely—he picked it out for me.

The book, by the way, is the best I have ever read on the subject of writing (fiction or nonfiction). It’s a writer’s conference in a book. In fact, if you don’t have this reference book in your library you are missing a vital link to the craft of writing. As a master editor of some of the most successful writers of our century, Stein liberally shares techniques and strategies. Normally, when I read a book filled with such valuable information, I follow my dad’s example and underline, write notes in the margin, highlight with a pink marker, and tab the pages. I resisted. Instead I savored each page and took notes on the back of my ticket voucher (which is now carefully filed away).


This is a gift from the heart—to be cherished. As I flipped through the pages, I imagined my dad reading in his chair with his black-rimmed glasses and yellow highlighter in hand. Tears flowed. Several times during the trip, my hubby asked me if I was okay. I dabbed my eyes and said, “I’m fine.”

I was not.

From California to Denver and from Denver to Baltimore, I cried—no sobbed. It’s not unusual—I do it every time. I wore my dark sunglasses (the ones with palm trees and flamingos), and re-lived the still precious moments: Dad fixing waffles for breakfast; working in his vegetable garden; taking Brandy—his beloved German short hair—on a walk EVERY morning; working in the garage—sculpting works of art from wood; picking up more books at garage sales, and sharing his opinion on political views.

I always wondered why I loved to read and now I know why.

Thanks, Dad, from your daughter with love!

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