Yesterday, family and friends gathered to plant an oak tree in memory of my father-in-law, Joseph Blanco. My son had a blast digging the hole (with lots of help) and going through all the steps to make sure the tree has the best start possible. Giving the roots room to spread and the necessary nutrition will ensure that the tree grows strong and tall.
As my son stood next to the tree, I realized that this event is one of many that will feed my son’s roots and help mold him into the person he is going to be. While I wish his grandfather was here to help mold him into that person, every story he hears about his “Papa” and each visit to that oak tree will influence his life. I have no idea how that influence will manifest itself, but I know my son’s roots will in some way reflect those experiences.
Which got me thinking…on this blog I have confessed that never in my childhood did I dream of being a writer. I often feel guilty when telling this to aspiring authors who knew from the moment they could read that they wanted to tell their own stories. And yet, today, as I helped put the tree in the ground, I realized that while I never dreamed of having my name on the cover of a book the foundation to be a writer was there—in my roots.
As a child I loved to read. Starting in first grade, I went to my school and town library and checked out book after book. The Boxcar Children. Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. Where the Red Fern Grows. Homecoming. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. About grade 5 I started graduating to Agatha Christie. Stephen King. David Eddings. Peter Straub. Thrillers. Mysteries. Horror. Romance. Science Fiction. Fantasy. If the book was written, I wanted to read it.
All because I was given the gift of loving books from my parents and teachers.
My mother read to me before I could read on my own. (And she’ll tell you that even when I could read on my own I still wanted her to read to me…probably because I loved that time we spent together more than the words on the page. My mom rocks!) My teachers made reading feel like an adventure—one I didn’t want to miss out on. That foundation…those roots made me start reading books without their encouragement.
The gift of reading was the most important present I have ever been given by the people who loved and instructed me when I was younger. The choice to read outside of the classroom was arguably the most important decision my young self made. The books I have read…the joy and escape and thoughtful moments I have received from them continue to feed me. They help my personal roots grow and have provided foundation for the rest of my life.
So, while I didn’t always want to be a writer…the love of the written word…the foundation…the passion for books was waiting to be tapped. If I dared to try. I only hope that the roots that I am helping my son grow prove to be as strong.
****PS...Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there who have given strong foundations to your children. You are to be celebrated and admired.