Why every generation loves a library
On Thanksgiving Day, my mother, whom I had not seen for several months, flew to Bermuda from San Francisco to visit us.
When I saw her at the airport dancing and waving at me, I started laughing and thought, “As long as our parents are alive, we feel like children.”
It is a deep happiness when you can talk for hours about everything in your own language with your dearest and most beloved person.
It is so precious when you know that you won’t be judged and criticised.
It is a joy to feel like a little girl again, who can be gently scolded for some mistake, but most of the time praised.
This is the purest and strongest unconditional love in the world.
On Monday, my mother and I went to Hamilton.
I had to meet with a client and began to think what she could do on her own for an hour-and-a-half.
“Would you like to go to a restaurant?” I asked her.
“No thanks, I’m not hungry,” my mom replied.
“Would you prefer to sit on this bench near the harbour?”
“No, I forgot my book at home and I can’t just sit doing nothing.”
It dawned on me that the book was the key. I would take her to the library.
When she was visiting me the last time two years ago, she researched and prepared a lecture on Bermudian history for her local Russian community in San Francisco.
It was a huge success, and everyone was intrigued about the island, the shipwreck in 1609 and, of course, the mysteries of the Triangle.
My restless mom, at 81, decided to prepare another lecture while she was here.
This time she choose the theme “The Beautiful Flora of Bermuda”.
Her friends at home had become curious about this distant island and she was determined to feed that interest.
I arranged for her to sit on the couch at the library and brought her some books about the flowers of Bermuda.
I sat down next to her, closed my eyes for a minute, and was suddenly enveloped in a wave of déjà vu.
Images and feelings surfaced vividly from 20 years ago.
I felt I already had this experience, and it too happened in November.
I received a grant to do a one-year scientific internship at the University of Pittsburgh.
I brought my daughter, Maria, with me from Russia. She had just turned 13.
These were very busy, hectic days for me; a new country and language, numerous classes and meetings with my professor.
I was also trying to find a decent school for her.
Because I did not want Maria to sit all day alone at home waiting for me, I came up with a brilliant idea.
One crisp, clear morning I brought her to the cozy children’s library at the university and sat her at a low, round table with a huge white computer monitor in the shape of a dinosaur.
Maria had never used a computer before.
I showed her how to navigate with the mouse, explained as best I could about the internet and then found an English language course for children. I told her: “This is new and an exciting opportunity you never had in the Soviet Union.
“Use it! Learn the language! I’ll come get you in three hours.”
“What is in there?” she asked me pointing to the screen.
“Everything!” I said, smiling.
As I was leaving the room, I looked back and saw her looking thoughtfully and with enormous curiosity at the screen.
I brought her to the library every day for two weeks until I found a school.
Maria told me little about what she was doing; she was preparing a surprise for me.
At the end of the second week, she proudly showed me a webpage — the first she made on her own.
She wrote in English about herself, our family, our dog, her home town of Irkutsk in Siberia, and her school friends.
It was touching, with many spelling errors and a naive childish design; a black background and golden stars everywhere.
When I saw it, I almost burst into tears.
I opened my eyes and returned to the present, to the library in Bermuda.
I shared this story with my mom and we laughed at the similarity of the situations.
We also agreed that it does not matter what country or city we live in, we always end up at the library.
This is the place where we can calm down, read, learn and think.
We are not alone here. We are among thousands of authors who can give us wise advice or inspire us.
It was in the quiet of the library that my daughter discovered the internet.
I pictured her today, now with a doctorate in chemistry, exploring the universe of science and still creating gold stars on black backgrounds.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com< /i>