He was 70 years old and had never read a book. Living with severe, classic dyslexia was a struggle which left little time or energy for unnecessary activities. Trying to determine if a story was about God or dog should be easy enough, but just to keep it simple he mostly tried to read the Bible. That way it was pretty clear that the subject was God and he already knew the story line. He attempted to read the King James Version in spite of my suggestion that he try simpler translations. Since words were a challenge, why make it harder by reading the KJV written in formal prose centuries ago? Still, he struggled on with what was most familiar, a verse at a time, mostly relying upon the words he remembered hearing in church or Sunday School.
After retirement from thirty-four years working as a butcher for one company, he began to use a tape recorder to play cassette tapes of the Bible. After many months, or perhaps years, he had listened to the entire New Testament in this manner at least once. Next, he decided that perhaps he could listen to other books, those that told a story that did not span the ages. With help, he visited a secondhand book store and there discovered books on CD. Armed with a new CD Walkman, he began to listen to westerns and then books like “Tuesdays with Morrie”. He even completed a biography about the life of Abraham Lincoln.
In failing health, after his 84th birthday, he was less able to do the thing he loved most, which was growing flowers in our little courtyard. Imagine his delight when he learned to use a Kindle, which came naturally, because of his skill in using his hands and his strong sense of touch. By touching the symbols, pictures and logo windows on the screen he could make things happen magically. Books that were downloaded for him to the Kindle came alive when he plugged in the ear buds and a narrator began to read. During the last year of his life he listened to many books including “Twelve Years a Slave”, “East of Eden” and “To Kill a Mocking Bird” and enjoyed discussing such well known books with his family for the first time. He was able to understand, finally, why people spent so much time reading so many books. He was amazed when he would watch a movie that was based upon a book he had just heard on the Kindle.
On the day before his death he discussed “Unbroken” with one of his visitors who told him of the planned movie release on Christmas Day and with pride and passion in his voice, he said, “I read that book!”
Note: Two weeks later on Christmas Day our daughters, Dianne and Allison and I went in his honor to see the movie, “Unbroken.”
Written April 29, 2015 and Edited for the Blog 9/7/16 & 1/1/18