Today marks the birthdate of a very important person: my father. This is a man without whose influence I truly would not be where I am. I mean this in the most literal and obvious of ways — that half-of-his-genes deal that my siblings also got — and in a number ways that are a bit harder to quantify.
The story I want to share is an attempt to, if not quantify, at least illuminate one of these influences. I shared it once before, earlier this year, over at the Nerdy Book Club blog. It’s a tale of summer, Sherlock Holmes, and the way a strong voice can fill a room. I’d like to share it again today:
Two Scenes of Reading
It’s an evening in August; I’m eleven years old. Even though I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for most of a summer now, I’m still arranging all of my belongings in my new bedroom. It’s the first time in the eight years since my brother was born that I haven’t had to share a room, and frankly, I just don’t know what to do with all the space. Everything feels smaller in this new place, including me. Especially me.
“Michael, come here!”
I hear my father calling to me from the living room. The sound travels differently in our new house, a ranch-style—there’s no way to pretend you didn’t hear, even when all you want is to be left alone to shelve and unshelve your action figures and bumper bowling trophies, which don’t seem to look cool no matter where you put them.
Upon entering the living room, I see Dad sitting in his chair; my brother and my five-year-old sister share the couch across from him, with as much space as humanly possible between them. It’s a typical scene, save one detail.
There’s a book in my father’s lap.
And Happy Birthday, Dad!