On our drive to Michigan, I kept thinking about what I could do besides be here with my grandmother, as we gathered to help her through the final days of her life. And what I kept coming back to was reading aloud.
Ours has long been a family of reading together, and there is something about the experience of being read to that I think cues being cared for in a very deep part of our psyche or soul. It is also something that Hanna and I share; one of the most effective ways for us to help her back down from a bad spell of anxiety is to put on old cassette-tape recordings of her father reading aloud, like he used to do when she was small.
So when I got to Holland on Sunday morning, I stopped off at my parents’ house before going to Grandma’s and picked up an armful of books. Here is what I have read so far:
Springtime in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
The Sailor Dog by Margaret Wise Brown
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
Miss Rumphuis by Barbara Cooney
half a dozen chapters from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
and the opening chapters of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader also by C.S. Lewis
The text probably isn’t that important, though I’ve been conscious as I’ve been reading about themes of exploration and home-coming, of journeys into the unknown, and of familiar family tales. The act being read to has helped calm everyone through the ups and downs of this process.
It’s made me think about what stories I will want for myself, someday, to help with the journey on.