My friend Carol went with me tonight to Manor Care where she works as a speech pathologist. Who better to give the gift of literature to than those whose language has been impaired? “They may have trouble speaking,” I thought, “but they won’t have trouble receiving the written word.”
It was a humbling experience to walk through halls where many cannot walk. They sat despondently in wheelchairs, many of these patients, and looked up expectantly when we walked in. “What did we bear in our arms besides books?” they seemed to ask. Could we possibly give them the lives they held before the brain aneurysm? Before the fall which hindered their capability to walk? Could we possibly alleviate the loneliness?
I walked into one of the patient’s rooms which the director of the facility had chosen for me to give a book, and I had the most lovely talk with Eve. “I have a book for you,” I said and discovered that she loved to read as much as I. “Could we have our picture taken?” I asked. “Oh, no,” she said, completely horrified. “I look terrible tonight. I’ve just washed my hair and it’s a mess…” So I gave up the idea of a photo, and chatted with her longer instead, when I heard a call from the bed next to hers behind a curtain.
“What about me?” this insistent voice hollered. “I love to read, too! I feel so left out!” I walked around to see who it was calling, and I said, “Don’t feel left out. Here’s a book for you, too.” I put my hand on her knee, and I told her I wanted her to have a book and feel the joy of literature. “No one ever calls me,” she said. “No one ever comes to see me
, they’re always going to see her
“It’s okay,” I said. “I’m here to share with you.”
But I can’t sleep tonight. Because giving out the books reminded me that I’m giving something important. It’s one tangible piece of affection, one little reminder that you matter. You, in the nursing home, spending too much time alone, are important.
If a book can do that, serve as a reminder of what is good and comforting in life, then it has served its purpose. The World Book Night
organization has served its purpose.
May everyone who received a book tonight be blessed.