Friday, November 20, 2015

Opus and the Great Green Room

LO and BB tend to cycle through favorite books. For a long while, LO requested Katy and the Big Snow every night. Some weeks, it's The Cat in the Hat. For an interminable several months, BB wanted only the inane Thomas the Tank Engine books.

But over and over again, both LO and BB return to Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, with pictures by Clement Hurd.

Before he died, my father and stepmother recorded themselves reading Goodnight Moon to LO, and it is the kids' preferred method of hearing about all of the items in the great green room. (Some of that preference might be because of the button they can push that invites them to re-record the story by moving the switch to the unlock position, which only occasionally gives me a heart attack at the prospect of losing Dad's recorded voice.)

But like generations of children before them, the boys love reading about the red balloon, the kittens, the mittens, the little toy house, the young mouse, the bowl of mush, and the little old lady whispering, "Hush."

On the day before Dad died, J, LO and I camped out in his hospital room, along with Dad's best friends and my devastated stepmother. We had brought board books along with us to read to LO, including our (non-pre-recorded) Goodnight Moon book. We read it to LO several times during that afternoon.

When we buried Dad three days later, his dear friend Kate read this poem she wrote, which was inspired by Goodnight Moon and our repeated readings of it to LO at my father's bedside:

Jim and Good Night Moon
April 7. 2013

Good night room. Good night moon.
Good night cow jumping over the moon.
Good night light and the red balloon.

Good night Broker. Good night Friend. Good night Brother…this is not the end.
Good night Grandpa. Good night Dad. Good night Husband…our hearts are so sad.
Good night Buddhas. Good night Beer. Good night Barn Pictures; all things you held dear.

Good night Room. Good night Moon.
Good night dear Jim. This was much too soon.

Good Night All. There is too much to say.
Safe Journey, friend Jim. Help Guide our way.

I don't remember reading Goodnight Moon as a child, but it is now inextricably linked to my parenthood and my father.

This morning, the connection deepened again. Berke Breathed's 2015 revival of Bloom County--which I SO wish I could discuss with my Opus-loving, Bill the Cat-voting dad--has introduced everyone's favorite penguin to a new line of work: as a support animal. November 20th's strip finds Opus reading a (somewhat edited) Goodnight Moon to a sick kid in the hospital.

It's hard to know how I feel about this. I was amused by the cow's big fat tush, and I love the kid's puzzled reaction to Opus's revision. Seeing Goodnight Moon read in a hospital setting (fictional though it may be) brought tears to my eyes. Re-reading Kate's beautiful farewell to my father makes April 5, 2013 feel like today. Knowing my sons will know their Grandpa Jim through his voice whispering, "hush" is bittersweet at best.

But with the week's horrors still fresh in my mind, I am so grateful for the gentle pleasures of a support penguin, a great green room at twilight, and my father's familiar voice.

Perhaps we can go home again, if only to say goodnight.

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