Monday, April 18, 2011

OK... The part where I get all weepy &shit


Sometimes yesterdays just kinda jump out you like a bear on a hiking trail and bite you in the ass.  Figuratively, of course., but that's what it feels like.  What's that line, from the Beatles song.... "Somebody spoke and I went into a dream."  I went into the basement and fell into a box.

....... of books.
See, this is how it was.
Twenty six years ago I collaborated on my first reproduction.... we called him Max. I named him after my favorite brand of coffee.  Or maybe it was after the guy who owned the Woodstock farm, Max Yasgur.  Or may it was just that it was what his mother wanted to name him.  It ain't no never mind, one way or another.

 I like to think, sometimes, when thinking does not overcome me, and my mind is sufficiently clear of intelligent thoughts, that I named him, simple and plain, after my favorite literary character.

Sounds good, anywayz.  Max, from Where the Wild Things Are.  It was the first book I bought for him.  Day two. He and his Mom (after she named him) were still in the hospital and I went out and got a copy.

In 1986, when he was born, I was a A-V technician at a Library System. (a position that is extremely obsolete now)  One of my best friends at the facility was the children's  librarian, a marvelous woman, who would show me the newest and neatest children's books.  Plus..... I would get a pretty cool discount when I bought through the library.... and, at no charge, I could get those neat-o plastic covers put on to keep them in good shape.

So when my second collaborative reproduction, Miriam, (she was named for the wife of the guy who owned the Woodstock farm, Miriam Yasgur) mentioned that she was doing illustrations for an art classes that encompassed "Children's Literature" I told her I had the box and would dig it out.

And I did. William Joyce, Steven Kellog, Chris Van Allsburg, David Wiesner.... plus all the Suess stuff.

Marvelous stuff.  I spent last night reading them.... some for the umpteenth hundreth time.

And I got these flashbacks... of the kids sucking their thumbs and listening as I read,,,, then.... so long ago.... and the shadows of the streetlights as they crept into Max's room..... and of how the moon would shine through the pine's in the backyard and into Miriam's.

I miss those moments.  Things I hadn't thought of for a while.  How fresh a child's hair smells  at bedtime after a bath..... how sometimes they will interrupt with endless questions .... how sometimes I would read aloud well after they had fallen asleep... & I wouldn't notice.  And sometimes.... when I did, how I would keep reading anyway.  How that reading instilled a peace in me and a faith that no matter how old they would grow to be, they would always be young. Hence, I could never be old. Ever.  Youth is the stuff of dreams, just remember to never stop dreaming.
............Stories....of course, if you are good at reading stories.... sooner or later you adapt a bit and get half-way decent at MAKING UP stories.  And I did a fair amount of that.  Gees, MY version of the three little pigs was complete with firetrucks, parachutes... and the wolf was named Jose, in case it is of interest.  And, in case it is of interest, I DID save Christmas, when it looked dire and that it might NOT happen.... and that dire circumstance was imminent for years... but that is all another story. I should write them down.

Now-a-days.... my favorite stories are of them...the kids.  And I will relate one.....

Just after Max's sixth birthday I took him to Washington State to visit my brother.  We threw a futon in the back of his truck, loaded up with camping gear and went touring the Olympic Mountains, the San Juan Islands and on into the Norther Cascades. It really was a delightful trip, stops at small cafes... nights sleeping in the open air, walking on Glaciers.  Max loved it and proved to be an amiable and compatible traveling buddy.
On the top of Mt Baker, though, catastrophe struck.  He popped out his first 'baby-tooth and it was hopelessly lost in the stones and pebbles and pine needles.  He was distraught.... that sucker belonged under a pillow and he was to get a quarter for it!
"Don't worry, Bubba.  When we get home we will just put a 'note' under your pillow explaining what happened and it wasn't your fault and it'll be OK.  Tooth Fairies are good about this stuff. They understand."
"You sure?"
"Absolutely.  I will help you write the note."
"Yupperz!"  And that is what we did.  I think the Fairy even offered a whole dollar compensation on that occasion,  About a week later, a small package came in the mail, addressed to Max; inside was a large plastic molar attached to a key chain and a note explaining how Uncle John went looking for his tooth and found it.
"DAD.... Uncle John found my tooth.... and he WAS RIGHT!!! Things really do grow BIG in the mountains!!!"  He is still a true believer and I still have that key chain.

So... Miriam gets the box of books... when I am done.  I think they will take care of her... as they did then...... but for now.... they are taking care of me.  If you love enough.... things do grow big in the mountains... of the heart.


tnlib said...

Oh my. What lovely memories, most of which I share. In fact, you've managed to stir them up so much that I've had to wipe a tear or two away. They didn't manage to hide my smile, though. So beautifully written and with such wonderful illustrations, I have to share it on FB and dedicate it to my grown daughters.

Sue said...

I agree L! I am wiping some tears away too, Jim does that too me alot lately....

What a special guy, terrific writer and one day maybe we could share a pot of Maxwell House...Thanks Jim

Sherry Peyton said...

Sigh...this is what blogging is all about my dear friend. Thank you for this delicious story. You are some kinda dad. And some kinda writer.

David Barber said...

Great memories, Jim. I seem to have something in my eye and a strange lump in my throat!

Great words, my friend, great words! If not in this lifetime, we will definately sit down for a beer in the next!

Nice one, Jim.

okjimm said...

TN... wowzers... thanks for the link... I am glad you liked it. Some days I get a little inspired if I have too much coffee.

Sue...we's getz a buncha bloggies together, ha, it won't be coffee we's a drinking!

Sherry... yupperz blogging can be fun... and much safer than bobsledding and all most as interesting as barstool-sitting! :)

David, thanks.... I always found a good pint takes care of throat lumps. Prevents them, too!!!

& of all those books... I really would recmnd..
"Owl Moon" Jane Yolen
"Rain babies" Laura Melmed

... perfect 'read aloud' books... and very inspiring. just saying

nonnie9999 said...

i can be a grinch sometimes, but you just made my heart grow 3 sizes. now, someone pass me that box of tissues, dammit!

Sue said...

okay, I'll be the one to say it...DAMN Jim You ARE CUTE!!! Love the picture! I'll have a whiskey sour....

susan said...

Beautifully said, Jim, and it's all true too. There's a little curly haired blond kid who always loved stories too. He's out there and deep in my heart too.

susan said...

oops, too many toos. You did strike a strong chord with this one.

dc Marin said...

I can barely see to type for all the dang tears.....that was just beautiful, and it will be shared on FaceBook.I've had a few of those moments lately ....when Toy Story 3 came out, my 3 youngest children (8, 5, and 3) inspired me to dig through the shed for the huge carton of Toy Story toys their older brother had loved with a fiery passion as a small boy, and watching them create new memories with them brought all the old ones flooding back. My husband made fun of me for keeping them, but he got quite misty at the sight of them, too. Thanks for sharing this, Jim.........perfection.

Anonymous said...

watch my daughter read to her two year old son when i should be going home so they can have their quiet time - but i don't think they even know i'm there sometimes - thanks!! suzanne b.

okjimm said...

Sue... HA! I haven't been 'cute' for some time.... and sometimes I think I am a Whiskey Sour! ;)

Susan... you can never have too many too's... especially if the too's are good too's. I mean that, too!

DC... thanks. Saving the kid's stuff is great. &there ain't nothing wrong with a good tear or two...or three. Stop by any old time.

Suzanne b... you two, ah, too.... stop by again. Children are never two,ah, too, old to hug.... even when they are over six feet tall, now, and with a beard. Thanks.

Lisa said...

Oh. Love this. I was moving stuff around in the garage and came across the box of children's books.

It goes awfully fast when you look back.

Thank you for sharing your sweet memories.

Randal Graves said...

Instead of beer, you give us maudlin? What the hell, man.

Sniff. No, we just have something in our eye.

okjimm said...

Lisa... never throw away children's books. They are handy when senility kicks in and you can't remember the bigs words no more.

Randal... I use to play the maudilin.... but gave it up for beer.

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