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The old man had two grandchildren – a granddaughter six and a grandson nearly
five. Every night at bedtime
both children begged him to read them a story and together the three of them
would be off to Camelot and
King Arthur or the strange tales from the brothers Grimm, or sometimes the old
morality stories from
He was a great reader. He could be a princess, a king or a roaring dragon, and
the children, with wide
eyes and their blankets pulled up tight to their chins, would listen with rapt
attention. He read well
because he believed every word of what he read, and his belief made the children
believe too. They never
wanted their father or mother to read, they always asked for grandfather.
It was a wonderful time for the three adventurers. After the reading they would
sleep the night through
dreaming of the cloud capped castles of Camelot or Rumpelstilskin, the dwarf, or
the lion with a thorn in
its paw. The grandfather was happy and fulfilled. He had read to his own son
many years ago but it never
gave him the joy he found in reading to his grandchildren.
But, like all good things, it didn’t last long – a few years at most. In time
his grandson preferred
virtual reality computer games and it was hard to tear him away from software
that cast him in the role of
an avenger dedicated to destroying a cell of fanatical Muslims bent on
destroying the New York City subway
system. In time his granddaughter could not tear herself away from television
re-runs of “Friends.”
The children sleep in separate rooms now and the grandfather stands in the
doorway to each of them with
his beloved old books of fantasy hoping to be invited in to read a story. But
it’s all over now. Times
have changed. The grandfather says goodnight to them – they hardly hear him.
Then he goes downstairs to say goodnight to the children’s parents as they sit
and watch the news on CNN.
Perhaps they hear him – perhaps not.
And so he goes up to his room and sits under the lamp with his story books in
his lap. He opens them
gently; they are very old you see – he had them as a child, and his mother read
them to him. He turns to
the first story ... his old friends are still there ... waiting.
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