Sunday, September 2, 2012

Reading + Writing + Labor Day

Who do you have to thank for bringing writing into your life? Do you read as much as you write?

My two-and-a-half year old grandson...reading or becoming a writer?

Today is Labor Day. It was organized to exhibit the strength and spirit of corps of trades and labor unions and was accompanied by a party for the workers and their families. Today, at least 17 countries celebrate some kind of Labor Day; most celebrate on the first day of May including Russia, Malaysia, Sweden, Norway and several Middle East countries.

In the United States and Canada, it is always the first Monday in September. It has lost its significance as a show of support of workers and is seen as a holiday for everybody. Government offices, banks, medical offices and other businesses are closed so their workers can enjoy a day of other activities. For us in the northern hemisphere, especially locations with four seasons, Labor Day marks the official end of summer. It certainly does in northern Idaho. My area of Coeur d’Alene, in the “panhandle” of Idaho, sees a dramatic drop in the tourist population thus reducing traffic on the roads, in the stores and on our numerous lakes. The date is a mixed relief for us locals as we, too, must get children ready for school and begin to curtail our lazy days spent on the boat fishing or skiing.

In my house, Labor Day and especially September 3, marks the wedding anniversary of Bob’s and my parents. Both couples were married on September 3 thirteen years apart and both those weddings fell on Labor Day. This date never fails to remind us of how lucky we are with our “choice” of parents. All four were loving, nurturing parents, and gifted in their own ways.

My mother was a woman of many talents. One of the things I most appreciated about her was seeing her constantly reading. I was the tag-a-long baby so by the time I noticed her activities, she had more leisure time with three of her four children in college. My siblings do or did like to read. I remember being read to before bed by either my father or mother every night. (Snip, Snap, Snurr was a favorite book of my Norwegian mother and me.) I also remember hiding under the covers using a dull flash light reading until I got caught and was forced to quit. I did not know it then but I do now…a love of reading comes before a desire to write.

Being given those examples has brought me untold riches. I often say a silent thank you to Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Carnegie for their idea that there must always be free, public lending libraries. I thank my mother for her example of reading because it led me to writing.

Reading has filled many hours of my life with fascinating journeys to foreign lands, exposing me to families with different structures and values than mine, opening my mind to new ideas and giving me knowledge far beyond my college education. I thought that if I would ever write anything, it would be a historical fiction book, my preferred genre. To date, attempts at fiction have been a failure but I am practicing. Some of my fondest memories of raising my own two girls are trips to the public library followed by hours of sweet smelling, little blond haired heads snuggled on either side of me on the sofa while we read. 

I scored well in writing exams and in classes where essay writing was included. My first job as an occupational therapist was in a large county hospital. After a few months, the coordinating physician complimented me on my clear, concisely written notes in the patients’ charts. All of these positive experiences led me to finally attempt writing in my sixth decade.Then I did not know where this ability to write would lead me.

Now I am part of blog with 5 other fantastic writers. I have written newsletters for several organizations, do research (the most liked part of writing for me) on almost any subject, judge with credibility other writers efforts (see the upcoming September 5, 2012 post) and enjoy composing posts, letters and an almost completed nonfiction book. I have met so many nice writers and appreciate their support. Without a love of reading, I would not have a love of writing.

All of this is brought to mind because today is Labor Day. Today is the day my parents were married. Today is the day I think always of the gifts my parents gave me. Today is the day I am glad I passed on my love of books and writing to my daughters. We share titles of books we read and like. One daughter is writing her second successful blog ( This blog centers on training for triathlon and marathons while raising young children; she is a better writer by far than I ever will be. Growing up she always had a book in her hand. Her undergraduate degree was English literature was followed law school. Reading comes before writing it seems. 

My other daughter, a psychology major, is the “grammar guru” of the administration building on the college campus where she works. People come to her with questions about grammar. She is not only smart but also she has always read a lot, not a coincidence. Both daughters are passing along the love of reading to their four children. Maybe one of my grandchildren will become an author “just like Nana.”  I hope so.  Before writing came reading. We scribes have chosen or were chosen by a vocation or avocation to be writers. How lucky are we?



Angela @ Fit Fun Mom said...

I love this post, Mom! It's great to read about your mom and your parents and the course of your writing career.

Jennifer Rova said...

Thanks! It was a joy to realize you had taught yourself to read before kindergarten, still love to read, and that you have passed that love to your children. Your writing ability and wit have "best seller" written all over it! Some day one of your children will say, "I write. Just like my mom and nana."

Anonymous said...

I loved this post! Of course I particularly like your choice of models for the photo. Your grandson does indeed love books and his Daddy and I love reading to him. I remember countless trips to the library and hours of reading with you. I especially love that I thought my mom was the BEST storyteller in the world when you would make up stories for me at bedtime.