Fifty Shades of Mary

Our mother loved to read.  As a child, she used reading to escape the sad reality of her life.  Her mother had died and she was shuffled around from one place to the next.

Reading may have provided the only security she knew.  She often described herself Black recliner (arm chair)as someone “with her nose in a book.”  Actually that was pretty accurate.  I can still picture her in her large green recliner with a paperback book in front of her face.  Later when she moved to Iowa, she would often sit in her brown recliner and read a book.

The funny thing about all of this reading is that Mary never mentioned anything she was learning or enjoying.  She never recommended a book to Lindy or me, and as far as I know, she never encouraged a friend to read a book she had enjoyed.  Doesn’t that seem strange?  When I read a good book I can’t wait to tell Lindy about it and I encourage all of my friends to give the book a try.

I guess the only thing I can tell you about Mary’s reading is that some of it was pretty graphic.  She would have been the first in line for a book like Fifty Shades of Grey or The Joy of Sex.  A lot of her reading while Lindy and I were children consisted of “dime store novels”, which were often lurid and tacky. Even for Mary, such material would not be appropriate for her children.

She used reading as a shield against the world.

She claimed she was too busy reading to clean her house, pick her children up from school, or do grocery shopping.

Yes, reading prevented her from being part of the so-called normal world.  It insulated her from people and reality.

She enjoyed escaping into the world of her fictional characters, and they never disappointed her the way people in the real world did.

BooksDad was also a voracious reader.  He loved reading the classics and he encouraged Lindy and I to do so.  I read Anna Karenina at his direction, and it is one of my favorite books of all time.

Mary, of course, had to rain on his parade.  Dad enjoyed re-reading the classics and she would berate him for it.

I don’t understand why you would waste your time re-reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when you could be reading a new book!

Mary would shout.

What’s the big deal about reading something you have already read?

Reading a bookThis from a woman who spent a great deal of her waking hours visiting the past in her mind, and then vividly re-telling the incidents she found most disturbing. Mother would dredge up horrible memories from ten, twenty, thirty years ago or longer and recount them as though they had just occurred yesterday.

Mary’s re-telling of her life stories truly did get old–especially after the twentieth or thirtieth time.

Looking back, I suspect that one of the reasons she took to those lurid, tacky dime store novels was to read about people whose fictional lives seemed worse – further from normal – than her own twisted viewpoint of her life and times had been. She should have re-read some of the classics and forgotten to re-tell some of the horror stories.

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