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He had two grandchildren now – a granddaughter six and a grandson nearly five. Every night at bedtime they both begged him to read them a story and together the three of them would be off to Camelot and King Arthur or the tales from the brothers Grimm or even the morality stories from Aesop.
The old man was a great reader. He could be a princess, a king or a roaring dragon and the children, with wide eyes and their blankets pulled up to their chins, would listen with rapt attention. He read well because he believed every word of what he read, and his belief made the children believe too. They never wanted their father or mother to read, they always asked for grandfather.
It was a wonderful time for the three adventurers. After the reading they would sleep the night through dreaming of the cloud capped castles of Camelot or Rumpelstilskin, the dwarf, or the lion with a thorn in its paw. The grandfather was happy and fulfilled. He had read to his own son many years ago but it never gave him the joy he found in reading to his grandchildren.
But, like all good things, it didn’t last long – a few years at most. In time the grandson went on to virtual reality computer games and it was hard to tear him away from software that cast him in the role of an avenger dedicated to destroying a cell of fanatical Muslims bent on destroying the New York City subway system. In time the granddaughter could not tear herself away from re-runs of “Friends.”
The children slept in separate rooms now and the grandfather would stand in the doorway to each of them with his beloved books of fantasy hoping to be invited in to read a story. But it was all over now. Times had changed. The grandfather would say goodnight to them – they hardly heard him.
Then he would go downstairs and say goodnight to their parents as they sat and watched the news on CNN. Perhaps they would hear him – perhaps not.
He would go to his room and sit under the lamp with his story books in his lap. He would open them gently; they were old you see – he had them as a child. Inside, his old friends were still there ... waiting.
The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.