“Do you have time to read our book?” Dad asks with a hopeful look. “Oh, yes!” I respond. Hurray! It’s Drop Everything And Read Time with Dad.
In anticipation of Dad’s arrival in mid-November, I carefully selected books that I thought he would enjoy, and arranged them on a bookshelf within easy reach of his bed. Dad is a voracious reader and books have always been an important part of his life. During his first week, I occasionally observed him flipping through a Newsweek. One day he eagerly asked for a Dallas Morning News but that, too, went largely unread. In answer to my query about his lack of interest in the books-in-waiting on his shelf, Dad said, “I don’t know why but nothing I read makes sense. I can’t focus long enough to figure out any of it.”
Cancer treatment affected me much the same way. “Reading” consisted of holding a book. How comforting it was to hold a book to my chest –especially my Bible– knowing that wonderful things were in it even if I couldn’t comprehend one sentence. Two or three books accompanied me to every chemotherapy session, doctor visit, and hospital stay.
Dad and I agreed that a change in literary habits was necessary. Happily, I took on the role of reader to an attentive listener. We raced through The Shack, although we continue to contemplate and mull over the spiritual ideas so creatively presented by the author. Dad fell in love with Corrie Ten Boom and her family in The Hiding Place as they lived through a time of profound horror in WWII Germany. It was a delight to introduce Dad to the grand adventures of Brother Andrew, as he slipped into Communist countries with cargos of Bibles, in God’s Smuggler. We marveled at Brother Andrew and Corrie’s close friendship until her death at age 91 in 1983, and how 80-year-old Brother Andrew courageously ministers in Muslim countries today.
While pondering our next DEAR Time choice, I read an interesting article about President Bush’s literary habits. (Dad and President Bush have this in common: they are both history majors even though Dad doesn’t possess a college degree.) We were both impressed that the leader of the free world found time to read 40 books in 2008.
Since Dad and I thrive on reading several books at once, we will continue with God Works the Night Shift and A Bend in the Road, both written by men sharing how cancer can indeed be your friend. Perhaps our next read-aloud will be a book from the President’s reading list. No matter what we choose, we say, “So many books, so little time.”