This I Believe

Brooke - Mequon, Wisconsin
Entered on January 28, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Contrary to most fifteen year olds, I possess an insuperable and passionate ardor for reading and completely believe in its ability to enhance my quality of life.

Once weekly, my brother and I pack into my father’s minivan and make the ten minute commute to my grandmother’s house for our traditional Sunday dinner. We step into her home, meet her in her living room where she is watching the news, and exchange hugs and greetings. We slowly traverse into the dining room, keeping pace with my grandma, who determinedly scrapes along with her walker. My brother and I flutter around, retrieving dishes for the dining table and filling water glasses. We sit down, pass the food around, and commence eating.

A physical description of my grandma is necessary in understanding her condition: at age eighty-six, she is by no means in exceptional physical shape. She doesn’t leave her house often and requires help in maintaining her home that she independently inhabits. A couple of years ago, both of her knees were surgically replaced, producing aches and pains that daily plague her knees. Her chronic pain has left her largely sedentary.

Over dinner, my father, brother, and I lightly converse with her. My grandma will usually inquire as to what my father did last week or how my brother and I are doing in school. Inevitably, however, she asks my brother and me what we’re currently reading. We, being avid readers ourselves, reply with a title, author, and perhaps a brief summary. My grandmother smiles and clasps her hands on the table, silently applauding our selection. Remarkably, nearly every time we supply her with a title, it propels her into a blithe remembrance of when she read the book herself. “Very good,” she’ll exclaim, “That book was delightful.”

The frequency of her retort is not surprising, considering the several book shelves embedded in the walls of her home, each laden with literature stuffed into every conceivable nook and cranny. My brother and I routinely scan the shelves, shelves that are replete with books modern and ancient, books that could be sold as antiques and books she bought (and read) last week for her book club. And though she is a ripe octogenarian, cannot walk ten steps without the aid of her walker, and on average leaves her house once weekly, she preserves her mental alacrity, sage disposition, and worldliness through her voracious and insatiable appetite for books.

I know that, like my grandma, I will not be able to evade the physical deterioration that old age inescapably holds. However, also like my grandma, I believe that through lifelong reading, I’ll be able to conquer the mental deterioration that the elderly commonly undergo, and in turn, nurture my intellect for many years to come.