The Partridge Family
My mom loved books and she loved to read and if she wasn’t working, she had a book in hand. She shared her love of reading with us and would read to us before we went to bed. I got my desire to read from her and my desire to write and to play with words evolved from her passion for books. She liked to play with words as well and would often take something we would say and sing a song or only a chorus that matched.
We would sit beside her on the wide couch after our evening baths and she would read. Most of the readings came from old reading books that she had collected from hand-me-downs to some bought on bargain tables. She preferred the short stories that could be finished quickly and not in a series of chapters. She would read several stories in an evening, and then tell us it was time for bed. We pleaded, “Just one more story.”
Usually she would relent. I think she liked us to hear us plead for “just on more story.” We wanted to hear one more story just as much as we wanted to delay going to bed for a bit longer.
After hearing several of our pleas, she would finally say, “Okay, just one more story, then off to bed with you.”
This night the extra story was about Mrs. Partridge and her family. It talked about this bird in the wild protecting its chicks and searching for their food. It shared how she would gather her chicks beneath her wings to keep them warm at night and safe during the day. Mom was doing well with her reading. Each paragraph spoke of Mrs. Partridge.
After about five paragraphs, her dry mouth and tired eyes made an error. Instead of saying, “Mrs. Partridge.” She said “Mrs. Fartridge…”
We three kids sitting on that old orange flowered couch began to snicker and laugh. Even though it was funny, it was the wrong thing to do.
“That’s it. Get to bed. I told you I was tired before I started.” And she slammed the book shut. There was no leeway for argument. There was no reprieve. That ended story corner for the night.
Years later, when I was in high school, I would read two or three books at a time. They would be scattered through the house. One could be upstairs in my bedroom, one might be in the living room, and one was always in the family room.
Mom would fuss, “I don’t know how you do it. You have one book on the arm of the chair, one open on the couch, and I know that you read one before you go to sleep. I don’t know how you keep all those stories straight.”
I tried to explain, “I learned that in school. We don’t go the whole way through the math book before we start history or geography. We are expected to read them all at the same time. That’s nothing different than what I do at home.”
She would shake her head and walk away.