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A memory of Dr. Seuss visiting my house as a young child

When I was a little girl, a neighbor down the street from my grandmother’s house used to come and read stories to me in her living room. I have no strong memory of his appearance or of his real name or which house he lived in on her street. Come to think of it, I don’t have any other memories of this man other than him reading to me on my grandmother’s very stiff floral sofa. For some reason I picture him in a white doctor’s lab coat and having a bald head, but who knows if that’s accurate, the memories of children. I called him by the name of Doctor and for a small window of time in my life Doctor would walk down the road in his white lab coat and come to read Dr. Seuss books to me. Ah, and now something has come bubbling back up! I remember him being Dr. Seuss! haha! I believed him to be the actual Dr. Seuss, the man who I called Doctor and who would walk to my grandmother’s house in a white doctor’s coat. I remember us having a special bond, Doctor and I, because we shared the same birthday, March 2nd, and how he’d joke with me that we were brother and sister years and years apart. That’s it. Now I remember it all so clearly.

My grandmother was very fond of Doctor. She talked about him wistfully and reminded me to be on my best behavior when he came over to visit.  “We shouldn’t be rude and waste the time of doctors,” she would say. After a knock on the door, grandma rushed over and let him in, offering him a glass of sweet tea and something to eat as she escorted him over to the rigid sofa to sit. I was shy and coy, not much different from how my youngest son is now, recognizing how very important he was compared to the likes of us. And then he pulled out a brightly colored hardcover book from the inside of his lab coat and asked me to guess what we were to be reading today.
Green Eggs and Ham!” I shouted with excitement. “I know this one!”
“Well then,” he replied kindly, “You can help me read it today.”

My grandmother sat neatly in her high back gooseneck chair with her legs crossed at the ankles, watching admirably at me and Doctor as he began:

I am Sam. I am Sam. Sam I am.

That Sam-I-Am! That Sam-I-Am! I do not like that Sam-I-Am!

Would you like green eggs and ham?

I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.
I do not like green eggs and ham.

Would you like them here or there?

I would not like them here or there.
I would not like them anywhere. 
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

Giggling with the story and shrinking my shoulders together in laughter, it was me and Doctor and that Sam-I-Am. He was so kind and generous and wasn’t moved by my grandmother’s formalities. It was just him coming to read to just me, punctuating through my early memories of parties and fighting and arguing and drinking as a bright spot of laughter, love, and safety.

Such are books to children.

 

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