My son steps into my office on his way to the fridge—his favourite electrical appliance—and looks at me slouched, as always, in front of my computer. It’s where he usually finds me before he leaves for work in the morning, or when he stumbles home late at night, unless, of course, I’m tangled tightly in the arms of a good book. I feel him hesitate beside me and I look up. He’s staring at the jumble of words on the screen lassoed between groups of periods and commas. His words aren’t posted for the whole world to see like mine are, but lurk in the dark corridors and crevasses within him, waiting for the right moment to break out and be heard.
I turn in my seat and brace myself for what’s troubling him. It’s not his fault his mother decided to become a writer—although I’m not sure it was a conscious decision on my part—maybe it was a done deal before I was even born. But I sure had a say at being his mother, and I’ve done my best to do good by that.
He shrugs and cocks his head towards the screen in front of me. “Why do you do it, Mom?” Why indeed. Why don’t I spend my retirement years watching my favourite shows, reading books, golfing, going on cruises to warmer countries, even knitting scarves for the homeless? He knows it’s not for the money; we all had a good laugh when I received my first $0.25 royalty check from Amazon.
He’s left me speechless. I wasn’t expecting to put a label to it. Maybe he’s questioning his own reason for things and wants me to show him how. Thing is, I don’t have an answer, and after a short pause, he turns to leave. “Sorry for bothering you, Mom.”
It’s only after I hear his bedroom door close that it comes to me. I do it to give back and share all the joy and soul-searching that reading has given me all my life. Some books have turned my head right around, others have made me cry, and some have showed me the way. I write, not for fame and glory, but to maybe give someone the necessary will to go on—be it a child being bullied or abused, or even a homeless person finding a life-changing book in a garbage bin—and to help them see how important their link is in that tight chain we call humankind.