Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why Do We Read?

Most of us read, but why do we read?

Because we are bored? Because we are trying to escape something? Because we are waiting for the train? The bus? Because we love stories? Because we saw our siblings/parents/grandparents read?

As a child, I started reading for many of these reasons. I would read waiting for the school bus, when I was bored in class (terrible, I know), when I wanted to escape my home life or my school work or myself.

I  began to really appreciate stories and books by paying attention to the people around me who were reading. I don't mean my nuclear family; my dad was more of a gamer and reading just wasn't my mom's thing. No, I mean the people who lived on the fringes of my life but who made a strong guest appearance in it from time to time. People like my teachers, my friends, my cousins, my aunts.

Someone who had greatly influenced my blossoming adolescent love to read was my aunt Faye, or, as she was called by most of the family,"Mammaw Faye."

Mammaw Tootsie and her oldest child, Elder Faye

My mother was a surprise baby. Like a her-mother-was-in-her-late-40s-and-thought-she-had-a-stomach-tumor kind of surprise. So, as you could expect, all of my mother's siblings are a lot older than her. Like, a lot a lot. She was an aunt when she was born, and by the time she had me, the cousins in my generation were nearing 30. 

So, when I was growing up, everyone kind of jumped back a generation: my generational cousins became "aunts" and "uncles" and their children became my "first" cousins. My mother's oldest sister, Elder Faye, became a grandmother to me when my actual maternal grandmother, Bessie "Tootsie" Durbin, died.

"Mammaw" Faye and Nicholas, my younger brother

Growing up, my family lived with Mammaw Faye on and off. But, then again, so did everyone else. Aunts, uncles, mothers-in-law, grand children, great grand children, nieces, nephews, cousins, cousins' cousins, friends, strangers. In fact, at some point in their lives, all of Mammaw Faye's descendants lived with her. Even though she passed away two years ago, her home is still inhabited by some of her children, grandchildren, and great grand children.

Aside from "bingo dobbers," bread and gravy, owls, and imaginative curse words, the thing that I remember most about Mammaw Faye was how much she loved to read.

And goodness did that woman read. 

At any one time, you could go into her room and there, stacked in neat rows beside her California King-sized bed, would be anywhere from 20 to 40 paperbacks.

She read countless romance novels, in every sub genre, and she was always on the lookout for romance books she hadn't devoured yet. It was a tough search; she was always out-reading her town's supply of Harlequin paperbacks.

I think growing up around Mammaw Faye and seeing how much she enjoyed reading really instilled within me a love and an appreciation for the written word. She also showed me that reading was a way to escape the things in our lives that were difficult to handle, that reading could, just for a little while, place us in a reality of our choosing.


Seriously, though, I would probably want to alter my reality very frequently too if I lived in a house with rarely fewer than 10+ people.

It is crazy, I really miss her spiced tea. Every so often, Mammaw Faye would whip up a large canister of spiced tea and leaving it sitting on the kitchen counter for anyone to enjoy. Living in her house, self-serve was kind of the unspoken rule for anyone who could reach the top of the counter.

Happy or sad, sick or well, her spiced tea made everyone feel the love that radiate through her house, even if she was hiding away in her bedroom with her books. It was always nice to sit down with a cup of hot tea while you curled up with a good book (or a bad book...dealer's choice). 

Yes, even in late July.

Elder Faye's Spiced Tea
1 container - Countrytime Lemonade
1 c - Instant Nest Tea
1 container - Tang
1/2 container - Koolaid Fruit punch
3 c - sugar
Spices per Layer
tsp cloves
tsp allspice
tad cinnamon

Alternate mixes in the container, making 1/2- inch layers with each layer getting 1 teaspoon of cloves, 1 teaspoon of allspice, and a "tad" of cinnamon. Feel free to reduce the amount of spices you use; I just like these amounts in my own mix. Once you have made all of your layers, roll and shake the container to thoroughly incorporate the various ingredients. Depending on desired strength, use 1 to 4 teaspoons of mix per cup of boiling water.

In honor of a woman you never met, make up a cup of something warm, grab a book, and escape your reality. But just for a little while.

Image Source
Book picture: http://shoestringsanddaydreams.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/stock-photo-books1.jpg
Family photos are property of Majesta Miles

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