Sunday, May 16, 2010

Two MUST READ Books ...

One of the lingering legacies of my time in Langley at Sharron United Church has been the friendship with two absolutely fabulous people who have been "grandparents" to many young people, my three children included. Grandma Gwen has spent countless hours in the nursery at the church tending the newest and youngest members of the flock that gathers there, while Grandpa Norm and his propensity to be helpful to just about anyone in need, means that in countless ways they've touched the lives of the folks around them with care, compassion and love.

When I lived and worked at Sharron the Librarian was a delightfully curmudgeonly woman named Mavis ... Mavis on first blush was a bit crusty and borderline cranky - but the beneath the exterior beat a heart of gold. I look back with delight on many chats and conversations Mavis and I had in the amazing Church Library she and Norm tended carefully and thoughtfully - it was among one of the best stocked and maintained libraries I've ever encountered.

As I got to know these fine folks better I got to know their families too ... In addition to having once been neighbours in one of Langley's many village like hubs, Norm and Gwen and Mavis also shared a mutual family of grandkids ... Norm and Gwen's son Myles and Mavis' daughter Kathi had long ago gotten together and raises a family of for children, who were when I met them becoming adults.

The eldest son - Ryan has gone on to become a teacher and a very accomplished writer and commentator on a wide range of issues.

Ryan's first book - "Cockeyed" is a memoir of his journey as blindness claimed his eye sight.

Ryan's voice is blunt, raw and edgy. He doesn't shirk from saying what he thinks, and saying it in just the way he would over a glass of beer.

I love Ryan's first book. It is a refreshing read, and knowing many of the characters who make an appearance adds depth and meaning. But it is Ryan's writing that makes the book a MUST READ for me.

This past week Ms. H and I were at the local Coles looking for a book that has been highlighted on CBC Radio. As we stood in the line up at the cashier we simultaneously noticed Ryan's latest book in the Bio section behind us.

"Hey, that's Grandma Gwen and Grandpa Norm's grandson ..." Ms. H said pointing a the book pictured below:

I will confess that I haven't finished it yet ... but given happenings yesterday that compressed my entire weekend worth of plans into an intense two and half hours - I think I have time to lie on the couch today and read ... (bearing in mind what Lennon says about life - "life is what happens when you are busy making other plans" ... so time will tell.)

The second book C'Mon Papa is equally readable, and is just a frank as Ryan's first book. He doesn't mince words, he wrestles with events and thoughts that others might be hesitant to express, but in the process he provides and honest and open reflection on the experience of becoming a father while struggling with what it means to be blind.

I can not recommend this book highly enough. Ryan's voice is one that is worth spending time listening to. With humour, frustration, and poignant moments, he exposes fully the many dimensions of parenting that even sighted people might overlook without realizing it.

The bonus for me is that I know Ryan and his family. The three grandparents I knew were fabulous people with whom I've shared laughter and tears. (Click here to read more about Ryan's Grandparents) I feel blessed to have been able to call them friends. And Ryan's parents are themselves remarkable people who have left an indelible impression on me and on my life journey.

So - if you're looking for some solid summer reading I recommend searching out the works of Ryan Knighton. His books are amazing, and his view of the world is clearer than that expressed by many sighted people. Ryan's voice is fresh, clear and remarkable. In his works you will laugh, you will cry, and you will learn a lot about the world, and about yourself.

(For more on Ryan click here)

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