When I was young my grandfather B. would tell me the best bedtime stories about faeries and good witches and there was my favorite–It started out with Princess Lissa, who eventually became Queen, and she ruled her lands with kindness, generosity, humor, and respect for all. She was a feisty lass who had the tongue of a sailor and could cut you down just as easily as she complimented you with a smile but she was fair of heart and mind, as well as face.
I remember those stories well. Sometimes he’d include my younger brother, prince James (Jimmy), and sometimes he’d include my father (who’d passed away when I was 7), and he always made my mom the High Queen with Heart (his name for her). My grandfather spent a great deal of time with us even before my father passed away, but my father was his oldest and I think spending time with us gave him comfort and made him smile so he spent even more time with us after my father passed.
When I was 9 years old, he was watching us while my mom and (step)dad were out of town. The school called and told him that I was running a fever and needed to be picked up from school. When he picked me up he knew how serious it was and immediately took me to the DR. The DR said I had the chicken pox, and a bad case of it, but I’d already had the chicken pox when I was 8 or 9 months old so when my grandfather talked to my mother over the phone and explained what was wrong with me she said, “But she can’t have the chicken pox. She’s already had it.” My grandfather’s response was, “Well, the Doc says it is, and from what I can tell it is, so I guess you can get it more than one time.” And you can, it’s rare but you can.
He nursed me back to health. Covering me with Calamine lotion, feeding me hot chocolate with marshmallows, soup, orange juice, his infamous flapjacks, or hot tea. And I was lucky enough to hear lots of his stories while I was couch or bed ridden. He surprised me with a story from his childhood, one his mother told him when he was growing up. The Selkie (Seal) Hunter. There was a man who lived in a home near the shore. He had a wife and babes and he provided for them as best he could. One day while out hunting he came across a big bull selkie and stabbed it with his knife. But he didn’t kill it. The bull selkie swam deep into the water and got away. Later on, the Selkie Hunter had a visitor come to call at his home. The young gentleman rode a fine horse, and asked the Selkie Hunter for his help. They went to the edge of a cliff and the young gentleman pushed the Hunter off the cliff but instead of dying the Hunter could breathe in the water and swim and when he looked at the young gentleman he’d turned into a Selkie. The Selkie showed him the knife and asked him if he recognized it, and the Hunter did–it was the same knife that he’d lost when he’d tried to kill the big bull Selkie. The young gentleman, who was now a Selkie, told the Hunter that the Bull Selkie was his father and the only person who could save his father was him. He’d wounded him and he’d have to heal him. The Hunter said he’d try, that he wasn’t much good at healing. The Hunter healed the Bull Selkie and the young gentle had the Hunter promise never to harm another Selkie again, and the Hunter did so–he wanted to get back to his wife and babes. But the Hunter had no idea of how he’d feed his family if he didn’t hunt. The young gentleman handed the Hunter a bag of gold and told him that the Selkies would never deprive an honest man of his livelihood…
There was another about a Faerie Queen and True Thomas, but I’ll share that one another day.
What I remember most about the bedtime stories, which I later on shared with my children, only in the story I told my daughter instead of Princess Lissa or Queen Lissa it was Princess Ria (my daughter’s name is Maria), was the feeling of safety, security, love, and comfort I got when my grandfather told me stories. Whether he made them up or they were fables from his childhood or stories from books. I just liked the sound of his voice and the attention he showed me.
(Don’t get me wrong, my mom often read stories to us, as well, but my grandfather B. died 10 years after my father died–I was 17 when he died so those memories are very special to me.) I’m an avid reader, and so are both my children. And my grandson has been read to since he was in the womb, like my children were. I’m also an avid story teller. I love to tell them, write them, listen to them. I think those bedtime stories helped increase my imagination and opened my mind and heart towards the land of words.
My favorite book was actually a collection of books by C.S. Lewis…The Chronicles of Narnia, which I still love. However, it wasn’t really any one book that influenced me, it was where reading took me, the adventure, the hope and joy I got from reading the pages. When I was ten I became an avid fan of Stephen King because of “Salem’s Lot,” but I still read other books. I read the Nancy Drew series, Treasure Island, Black Beauty, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, George Orwell’s 1984 (which I read in 1984 when I was in high school), The Gift, The Giver, The Adventure’s of Huck Finn, A Picture of Dorian Gray, Gulliver’s Travels….. I could go on and on. But it was never just one book, except for maybe the Chronicles of Narnia and then Stephen King’s book Salem’s Lot. I was about 8 when I began reading the Chronicles and I needed to escape the pain that I felt over my father’s death and the world of Narnia gave me an outlet that was healthy. To this day, I can’t help but want to buy a new copy of it every time I see a different version of it. I read it about once a year.
Daily Prompt: Bedtime Stories What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?