When my granddad's house suffered a huge fire in 2008, one of the first things my family and I worried about—after we were sure Granddad was fine—was all of the books. Granddad's house had thousands of books. Old ones. Books that smelled old and felt old. All of us spent hours paging through them—I remember reading Little Women for the first time there. I also remember having the Sesame Street book The Monster At the End of This Book read to me there. There is a photo on Facebook of one bookshelf completely blackened and destroyed after the fire. But some books made it.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Granddad's assisted living apartment and helped my dad and aunt box up the books that survived the fire. There are a ton of great ones—volumes of Shakespeare, lots of English poetry. Granddad was moving to the nursing home, so the books are being stored at my parents' house until the grandchildren can divide them up.
Granddad died on Monday night, peacefully, with my dad by his side. Not every child has what I always took for granted—houses full of books and people always willing to read out loud. Granddad will be missed. But his love of language and books and most of all, family, lives on.