By Anne Marie Whalley
My father was born in 1887, and I have no idea where his knowledge of life came from. He knew how to read, count, and speak properly, even if we had a dialect from the area where he was born in France. My mother, who started working at the age of 9, was the same type of person as my father. He passed away when I was 8 and left me with the desire to learn more about words used to describe the world.
For example, how my father knew about the world and could describe it to me. We had our favorite book – an Atlas – so well done that I read it to my father after he had a stroke. That book united us, since it allowed us to have conversations, and with the conversations came the desire to know even better what was around us.
And what we did we do when we wanted to learn more? We read. Books opened our creative mind to imagine the world, since we didn’t have TV or movie theater in our village. We felt, we tasted, we touched, we smelled with written words and we used our imagination to live the story. What a treasure we own when we know how to read.
I needed then to learn English as my second language when I used to adore French. What a challenge it has been! Do I feel richer knowing two languages? Yes and no. I re-read, for example, philosophical books written by Germans or French people. Those books where translated in English, and if I understood the words, it was not easy for me to use them in a sentence; something I used to do in my French language. Nevertheless, I fell in love with the English words, and what a beauty it was to learn over and over.
My American husband is an avid reader like my father was. No, Mr. Freud, I didn’t marry my father! I married a man who impressed me with his words, the same kind of language I used hearing in my home when I was a little child. That example of two parents allows me to have a strong marriage. Thanks dad and mom, thanks to my husband to give me so much ability to perform this wonderful task in life: take a book and read it. We have the TV in our home, and if we do not watch it, it’s because we highlight, we mark our books and then have conversations about the story we read or are reading.
So, yes. I grew up, and I stayed the little child with more knowledge, and I am still happy to learn.