A Good Home, Aging, Authors, Book lovers, Books, Children's Books, elderly Parents, Parents, Reading, Relationships

Please Read to Me

Lee Gowan, author of Confession and other novels,  lives in Toronto, while his mother lives in western Canada. Time spent with her is very precious to Lee.

One day several months ago, Lee and I were part of a small group of writers invited to read excerpts from our books and chat with an audience in a large Toronto bookstore.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Out of the blue, Lee said something that moved me nearly to tears. (That’s Lee, extreme right, and that’s me, third from left, trying to compose my face — and failing.)

Lee told the audience that he’d read A Good Home to his mother.  She’d loved it, he said.   Day after day, he read the book to her.  They laughed together at some of the comical parts.  And at certain points, Lee said, he and his mother were both so choked up with emotion that he had to stop reading for a bit.

As Lee spoke, the image formed in my mind: of an adult child reading to a parent.

agoodhome_cynthiareyesWhy did I find that a remarkable thing?  Well – for one thing –  my relationship with my own mother is one of the major themes in A Good Home. But she died before the book was completed.  As Lee spoke, I realized that I’d never get the chance to read the book to my own beloved mother – who’d always encouraged my writing.

I also knew that Lee’ s mother’s health was already declining — and I felt happy that he had been able to read my book to his mother while she could still enjoy it.

**

We know that children love to be read to.  We read books to our children when they are young.  They clamour for more, even when their eyes are full of sleep.

via childcarealgoma.ca
via childcarealgoma.ca

But sometimes we forget that many adults – especially elderly people – like to be read to as well.

Letters and cards from readers of A Good Home have reminded me of this fact.  It turns out that a good many people have read my book – or parts of it — to a parent, other relative or friend.

Reading is a cherished past-time for many people.  Mother’s Day in Canada, the US and many other parts of the world is just around the corner and Father’s Day follows in June.  If your Mom or Dad (or favorite older relative or friend) is still alive, you might consider buying them a book.

Most people prefer to read a book by themselves — and it’s great if they are still able to do so.   Others would like to, but can no longer do so.  Whatever the situation,  consider offering to read a chapter of a favorite book to a relative or friend. Whether or not they need the help, the sound of a beloved voice reading to them might just be a balm to a person’s soul.

 **

 This post is dedicated to everyone who loves reading, or being read to.  And to those who read to others.

 

 

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Author MT McGuire At Home

Author MT McGuire is one of my favorite bloggers. That’s partly because I never know what MT will write about next.  Or how.

Like the time she went metal detecting and found “a strange um…. thing.”  Well, with an opening like that, don’t we just need to press on, to figure out what the um… thing is?

The Thing
The Thing

One day she’s unearthing an 800 year old object and the next she’s breaking your heart with her worry about her parents’ health.

My Mum was 80 a few months ago. She told me, gently, that her father didn’t survive to see 81 and I had a horrible feeling that she was telling me she thinks she mightn’t be around for long.  And I think this is the root of it all.  That my parents are knocking on, and soon they won’t be here.  And I want their last years to be happy, and for life to be kind to them, and while I think they are happy, I know they are struggling.

So I suppose I’m just scared.”

That ability to confront both the weird and the deeply moving may help explain the appeal of MT’s  K’Barthan Trilogy.

Blog Photo - MT Few Are Chosen
 She describes the young adult fantasy series as:  “Above all else, a romp. If it makes people laugh, then — to be honest — anything else is gravy. There are bad jokes, silly names, an unspeakable baddie, flying cars, flying car chases, exciting fights and a smattering of romance.  But I’m hoping there might be the odd universal truth buried in there somewhere, even if it’s only by mistake.”

MT McGuire’s self-description?   “A 45 year old who still checks inside unfamiliar wardrobes for a gateway to Narnia.”

Any luck with that?  “None yet.”

One day, I checked MT’s blog and discovered a wonderful old building where she and her family lived while her father was housemaster of Gibbs House, at Lancing College in Sussex, England.

Gibbs House, Lancing College
Gibbs House, Lancing College

Here’s how she describes it:

“Miles and miles of corridor and a couple of enormous rooms (you know, bed in one post code, wardrobe in another) and a couple of tiny ones just big enough to fit a chest of drawers and a bed, on each floor. You have the spare room; the dormer up top (horrible room, we thought it was haunted – so we kindly put our guests there – phnark).”

Lancing was definitely not a “normal” environment for a young girl, since it was mostly a boys’ school.

“If your life is not like other people’s you end up with an alternative perception of what normal is.”

You also learn to see things that others may miss.

“There were always the lads who were having a hard time at home. They were the ones my parents were extra kind to and for whom they went the extra mile. I never knew what was going on in these boys’ lives but there was something unmistakable in all of them.  So, I guess I developed an eye for people who were hauling baggage which has helped a lot with the characterisation in my books – not to mention day to day life.”

Lancing College Chapel
Lancing College Chapel

So – back to the pictures of Lancing College. They reminded me of another fantasy series — the Harry Potter books.  And sure enough,  Lancing was the producers’ first location choice.

“The school was offered a lot of money to be the ‘film-Hogwarts’ but declined. The headmaster at the time said that it was a place of education and not for Hollywood. He is a charming and mild mannered man.  I wonder what on earth they must have said to him to get such an uncharacteristically pompous rebuttal.”

Back Garden

Today, MT, her husband (“McOther”) and young son (“McMini”) live in another old building (above, built in 1800).

Blog Photo - MT Stairs to Landing

She loves it, despite the fact that the plumbing and heating systems and the plastering need repairs.  MT says it’s like owning a 1960’s Rolls Royce.

Blog Photo - MT Office via landing

Blog Photo - MT LRoom comfy corner

“Sure it needs a bit of care and tinkering but it’s like living in history and it’s so beautifully made. The banister rail is beautiful and the doors and the floors are lovely.  The look and feel goes with our furniture, which is mostly family stuff, generations of hand-me-down antiques and some nice modern things McOther and I have bought.

Blog Photo MT LRoom red sofa

Comfort matters.  “I like a well cared house, but not too neat. It has to look lived in or it makes the guests nervous and then they are far more likely to spill stuff and break things. Well, OK — I am, if I’m your guest. It may be different for normal people.”

Blog Photo - MT Stairs

For MT, home is a place, but, above all, it’s the people who love and understand you.

“Someone as well as somewhere to come home to. When I was a kid it was my parents and brother. Now, it’s McOther and McMini. Unless they are in it with me it’s not a proper home. I guess they are my home in many ways.”

MT McGUIRE’S BOOKS

There are 4 books — not three — in The K’Barthan Trilogy.

(MT cheerfully admits:  “Unfortunately, I’ve never been very good at maths”.)

The books are sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the other online booksellers. To learn more about MT and her books, please visit:

Blog: www.mtmcguire.co.uk
Website: www.hamgee.co.uk/books