For Mom's birthday this year, I created the birthday-book-of-the-month club. Mom is an AVID reader and this seemed like a perfect gift. I wanted to give her a variety of fiction and non fiction. In the past, I've always passed on to her my favorite reads; so this would be different--I would take risks and recommendations and let Mom be the first to read.
BBMC began with James Michener's epic Hawaii, since that was the venue of her birthday and the kickoff. It was a looooooong book, but I knew Mom would conquer Hawaii-just in time for January's read: The Boys in the Boat, highly recommended by The Tressler Women's book club. This mom and her four daughters created their own book club for camaraderie and shared intellectual exploration and stimulation. Then it was time to pick February's read. Previously, I had ordered two books I could choose from. The first was Green Dolphin Street, (Marcia's all time favorite), and a NYT notable book: The Professor and the Madman, A Tale of Murder, Insanity, And the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary.
A strange thing happened. Each time I went to gift wrap, box and send February's pick, I felt restrained. Followed by a muddled mind. Strange. It was after all, just a book, and I had ten more months to send new books. Did it really matter which book I sent her? While talking on the phone with her, the book, Jesus the Christ, by James E Talmage popped into my mind.
"Mom, have you ever read Jesus the Christ by Talmage?"
"I've started it but never finished."
Jesus the Christ is the epic study of the Savior of the World, written by an apostle of the Lord in 1949. One of the tenets/doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is that the modern day church is patterned after the ancient church of Jesus Christ. His earthly ministry immediately required the gathering of 12 good men who would serve him, his children and would testify of his divinity, his mission, his atonement. They were left to carry on after his ascension, left to build his church, and die, often brutally for the cause of Christianity.
I too had started this work on a few occasions and had never made it through.
Again, when I tried to send Mom a previous book club choice, I knew I needed to send her Talmage's great work instead. In the box, I included an explanation of how I felt compelled to send this book.
Before Mom found the book in her mailbox, I received an email from her. She wrote: I just got a note from our Relief Society Stake Presidency admonishing us all to read Jesus the Christ together. So I headed over to DI (Mormon goodwill), and found a copy for .75 cents. I've already read four chapters before church this morning and found the taking of the sacrament intensely meaningful.
I responded, When you get home you will find a beautiful, brand new copy. Maybe I should read it with you! That day, I too started Talmage's glorious work on the Savior.
My copy is also a used copy. It belonged to my dad. His underlining and notations are sparse but today I realized a few notations must also belong to my mom. The book is a kind of legacy of my parents, of me. All of us struggling to get through a book, to get through life, getting to know the Savior and ultimately the greatest challenge ever~~trying to become more like him.