Reading to Mom

I had a real good Mom. One day, one day after I was all grown up and she couldn’t walk anymore, she said, “Read to me.” So that’s what I did. One day she said read to me and that’s all I ever did from that day forward. I climbed into her bed and read to her for years and years and years. Story after story. Ali Baba and Emma and Bilbo. David Copperfield and everybody else. Novels and poetry and biology textbooks, me there next to Mom, showing her the pictures. I read the atlas to her, pointing to little dots and blue lines, pronouncing the names of cities and rivers very carefully even if I was wrong. Ganges. Bujumbura. Yangtze. Vaduz. Ouagadougou. We laughed and laughed, there on Mom’s bed, her laugh sometimes gurgling with pneumonia. My sister in and out with trays of food. Dad at night and I would go back to my pallet in the yard until morning. I never slept in those days. I would just lie on my back looking at the stars, Mom and Dad sleeping inside. I never got cold or hungry or anything like that. I would stare at the stars and relive all the stories from the day. Dream. All the new physics and whatnot from the day’s reading, written in the sky all over again. Cave paintings and such, Mom’s laugh still in my ears. The dawn slowly taking the stars, then, I would brush the snow off my jeans, shake it out of my hair, and go start the coffee. One day, though. One day not too long before she died, Mom couldn’t talk anymore. I put down the books and opened my notebook. Mom, I said, I wrote this. She grinned at me.

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