I suddenly realize that the older gentleman hanging around the front of the room is actually waiting to talk to me. (’til now, I’ve assumed he’s part of the clean-up-the-room ‘n’ turn-out-the-lights crew — my bad!)
My “Raising a Reader” presentation to this evening parent group has generated a lively question-and-answer session. But now, as we’re all picking up our umbrellas to head to our cars, Richard steps forward and politely introduces himself.
“I have to tell you a story,” he says.
(Of course, he has me at “story”!)
“When I was in sixth grade, my teacher — Miss Black — read aloud to the whole class every day.”
I nod and smile.
“I miss those days; I loved reading to my seventh and eighth graders after recess when I had a self-contained classroom!”
Undeterred, Richard continues. “She read us Anne of Green Gables. Here I was, a poor kid in the middle of Idaho. I’d never gone anywhere. But I knew I had to visit Prince Edward Island some day!”
“When I met my wife, she’d never even heard of Anne! So I bought her all the books,” he spreads his hands apart. “The entire set!”
His voice deepens and colors with emotion.
“Forty-five years, as we crossed the bridge to Prince Edward Island, I said, ‘This is because of you, Miss Black!’ Forty-five years later, I was there!”
His eyes twinkle. “I was eleven years old when I fell in love with Anne,” he confesses with sheepish pride. He ducks his head to one side.
“I think I’m still in love with Anne.”
With a shy wink, he walks away.