Let's Talk with Debra H. Goldstein
Happy Birthday, Daddy! Thanks for Teaching Me to Love Words
Today would be my father’s ninety-seventh birthday, but he died at seventy-seven. I don’t write about him as often as I do my mother. Part of the reason is because her background as a Holocaust survivor, assimilation into American culture and English (without a trace of an accent), fierce protection of family and possessions, and social justice beliefs were more out there. Dad was quiet.
His life was a balance of loving/adoring my mother, being a family man, and going to work. They were a team, but as much as he accomplished in business, in the community, or in terms of raising my sister and me, he was the quiet one. He imparted his eye for fashion and art to my sister, his gentle intervention to my children, but when I think about it, I realize I owe a great deal of my love of words to him. Although my mother religiously took me to the library every week and bought so many Scholastic and Weekly Reader books that the classroom teacher adored her, my father spent hours reading poetry aloud with me.
As a child, I had a speech problem. I spoke too fast. My brain worked faster than the words could come out of my mouth. The speech pathologists decided that as a means of slowing my speech down, it would be a good thing for me to read poetry aloud regularly. My father, using the American and British books of poetry (now similar to the Norton poetry anthologies) sat with me every night having me read the words of Longfellow, Frost, and others. When I stumbled over a word, he helped me. If I didn’t understand a word or concept, he patiently explained it. That’s how I learned “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman referred to Abraham Lincoln rather than simply a ship’s captain and about the choices one can make by “The Road Not Taken.”
For a chance to win a copy of Five Belles Too Many, tell me, did anyone in your life make a difference when it came to reading or loving words?
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