Remembering the joyful moments

Published 7:30 am Saturday, July 30, 2022

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I pulled a sheet of paper from some odds and ends I found while doing some deep cleaning. I unfolded the sheet. There was no date at the top of it, but it was creased from folding and yellowing a little.

I recognized my handwriting. I had scribbled words in black ink with a fine point pen. Some of the lines traveled uphill. I must have written hurriedly in order to catch the mood of the moment, snatching a few minutes from my endless chores as the mother of an active toddler. The sheet of stationary was wedged between some World War II ration books issued to me and my parents and some of my daughter’s high school snapshots. All of them were jammed in a scrapbook among tattered pages, tied together with a heavy string.

My musings about Robert Louis Stephenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses” was the last thing I expected to find when I opened the album. But there it was. “I have just finished reading to my young son,” it began. “When I took this book in my hands and began to read, I found myself in a strange and wonderful world. It was not a new one, but one I had forgotten existed. It was like a childhood friend whose presence brought back many pleasant memories. The book was vividly illustrated and it stayed around our house a long time. Some years later, our daughter sat in my lap, listening to the same verses and enjoying the same illustrations.

“No matter how many times I read these verses, they always sweep me up in a cloud of wonderment” I had added and launched into a new paragraph. As I glanced down at my little one I could see the eagerness he expressed in pondering these things. Was he thinking that soon perhaps he will create his own block city? Although he had been shown his shadow, finding it was a new game. And his mother, who forgets how it is to think as a child, marvels at the great insight of Robert Louis Stevenson and is thankful his works are being handed down through the generations.

As I folded the sheet of paper and put it away, I wondered how long it had been since I had read any of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry. In my mind’s eye, I saw some of the illustrations in that book and felt, for just a moment, the magic it had worked on me and my children. Do parents still read this talented man’s poetry to their children these days?

I don’t know if my children remember those times when we were captivated together, but I have no doubt it stimulated their imagination. As for me, what mother doesn’t look back and remember with pleasure some joyful moments she shared with her children?