My earliest memories are of books.

My mother was a complicated woman and a reader. She could become lost in a book for hours. She read books like my father smoked Camels, closing one and opening another.

She took time to read to her children as well, imparting a gift as rich as any present. I can remember sitting in her lap while she read to us. I don’t recall the books themselves, except The Bible Story, but I can close my eyes and smell the paper, hear the rustle of the pages turned, the quiet room a backdrop to her voice.

Our homes weren’t often quiet. Maybe that was an extra treasure from reading time.

I grew up in a military family first […]