I found it resting on his nightstand where he left it, the last book my father read, bookmarked yet unfinished, just like his life.
This 25-word story was inspired by my late father. At first glance, seeing him in worn blue jeans, a ball cap, and leather boots weathered by labor, one might not have assumed that he was a bookworm. He once told me wistfully that if he hadn’t gone to college for accounting and fallen into carpentry he would’ve enjoyed being an English teacher.
I remember him recounting his love for reading the classics, like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, as an adolescent and how he would diligently look up the definition of every unfamiliar word he stumbled upon. It was that same diligence that he used to put me through spelling bee boot camp in elementary school resulting in a top-five finish and his tough exterior washing away with tears of pride.
I hold dear the fond memories of him at my bedside reading aloud from literary delights such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Magic Kingdom for Sale.
I’m not sure what book he was reading, if any, when cancer ended his life at the age of sixty — but his love of literature lives on in me and my own children.
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