When I was a little kid, my dad had a book that I loved. We read it together; and I read it to myself many times. It was about a family of seafarers and their mascot: a gull carved out of ivory. I was telling Chuck about this book the other night, because of its nautical theme.
Plus, I was lonely for Dad. I had heard "Joy to the World" on the radio earlier in the day. It made me think of how much Dad liked to sing the bass line in church every Christmas Eve. I would sing,
"And heav'n and nature sing..." and he would get in there with "...heav'n and nature sing..."
At any rate, I admit it - I was in a reminiscing sort of mood. Poor Chuck, having to listen to my stories. But I digress.
Dad had a lot of interesting books, and Seabird was a favorite.
The summer before he died, I was visiting and I asked him if I could have it. Lately, he and Mom had been giving away little things to kids who would take them. About Seabird, though, he replied, "Not yet. I'm not done with it, yet."
Then he died and my brother cleared out all of his books. In the aftermath of the funeral, the move and the rest of it, I didn't think of Seabird right away. A couple of months later, I remembered and e-mailed my brother. Did he have it? Would he mind giving it to me?
He didn't know what I was talking about. He and Dad had not read that book together. Would he look for it, please? He was happy to look for it, but he warned me that he had already given away a bunch of Dad's books and had no recollection of this one.
I assumed that it was out of print. When it arrived in the mail yesterday, via Amazon, I realized it wasn't. Chuck called it a belated Christmas present.
There it was, restored to me. Just like the one I used to read with Dad. Even the slipcover is the same.
The artwork, each painting familiar to me, although I hadn't seen them in years.
All the clever margin sketches.
know you will never see again, it is overwhelming. I started to cry. Chuck must have gone online the very next morning, looking for it.
I can't think of a present that I have loved more, ever. Or a person I have loved more, ever.