One of my earliest memories I have on my own (not reinforced by pictures in an album or talked about by other family members) is of my mom reading the book Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant to me. She read me the book over the course of a few months, and I remember each session feeling like a warm hug. The book's cover is imprinted clearly in my mind: a slightly confused looking dog standing next to a squirrel and a bat with a crazed smile. The plot of the book that I can recall is that the dog and the bat need to find the squirrel when she goes missing in Gooseberry Park. What I know for sure is that I loved the found family (as I still do) and the cozy nature of the park.
I was an admittedly difficult child. If my mom ever tried to put me in a dress that had an itchy or uncomfortable fabric, I would throw a fit. However, sometimes before family parties she would read a little of Gooseberry Park and my antics would fade away; I was entranced by the story. One moment in particular has stood the test of time. My Uncle Joe was getting married and I was a flower girl. Right before we headed to the wedding venue, my mom and I sat, fully dressed and covered in pounds of hairspray, and read a few chapters. I remember that more than the wedding itself.
Normally, I read on my own, as a solitary activity. I am more at home with my nose in a book, curled up amongst the words on a page than I am in the real world. But whenever I am feeling blue, my mind slips to Gooseberry Park and those moments with my mom.