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Today's Family Magazine

Mommy Chronicles: A father’s legacy of love

By Stacy Turner

My father’s job driving a truck for a moving company meant that when we were off school during summers, he was traveling the country delivering furniture and possessions for families relocating during the break.  Most times he’d be gone a week or so, delivering from point A to point B.  Sometimes, however, he would be pressed to pick up a load from point B and deliver it to further-flung point C or D, extending his trip by another week or two. 

We’d learn of his return only when Mom urged us to keep our usually boisterous morning noise level down, because our dad arrived home late and needed his sleep.  This only made being quiet more unbearable, as we waited as patiently as was possible for a slew of well-rested, excitable kids. 

But seeing our dad and hearing about his travels was only part of our excitement.  It was a big deal, for sure, as each of us wanted to share something he had missed.  Like the winning score at the recent softball game, learning to do a back flip in the neighbor’s pool, or riding a bike without training wheels.  Or that prank someone pulled sticking a dried-up dead fish in someone’s shoe that day at the beach – one that wasn’t found until she removed her shoe at home.  Dad was happy to be home, trying to keep up with the flood of stories and reveling in what we’d been up to in his absence.

Not always, but sometimes he’d bring something home for us.  Silver dollars or other interesting coins picked up in his travels.  Special jewelry for the girls, or matching cowboy boots for the boys. Often, he brought useful things that a moving family no longer had room for.  This is how we amassed bicycles, riding toys, and roller skates in a variety of sizes.  Once, we received a classroom-sized chalkboard perfect for playing school. The bikes and roller skates were always appreciated, as it seemed someone was always outgrowing skates or itching for a bigger bike. 

Having a bicycle meant freedom, since accomplished bike riders were allowed to take unsupervised spins around the block, and eventually all the way to the playground.  But my favorite surprises were times he brought home boxes full of books.  Although my father didn’t read much, I like to think he grabbed them especially for me, the only bookworm in the bunch.

Hardbound Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries filled one box.  Another time, it was an odd collection of paperbacks I wouldn’t have selected for myself but mostly enjoyed anyway.  Finding out what was inside each box was half the fun. It was a reading list curated by someone I didn’t know, and I was grateful to have it.

I imagine it must have been an overwhelming production for Mom, getting all six kids clean and dressed and loaded into the station wagon for a visit to the local library. I’m not even sure our local library had a summer reading program.  So, in essence, those boxes became my summer reading program, delivered right to my door.  And those books brought freedom of a different sort, as I holed up in the den with a ‘new’ book on a rainy day, swept up in the latest mystery or adventure. 
I could escape alone to read after dinner, surrounded by rustling leaves on the apple tree in the side yard.  If the story was especially thrilling, I’d read by flashlight under the covers in bed. 

Today, I’m still a bookworm – one who writes stories and works at a library.  At the library I answer questions and help people of all ages find what they need on shelves and online.  It's strange to think that my love of stories and reading was fostered by my father, a nonreader, and the treasures he gifted in some old moving boxes.