My wife and I stopped at our local Barnes & Noble last night to look for some workbooks for our three-year-old grandsons. It was the first time I had been in there in a decade. It hadn't changed too much, although there was a toy section and a lot of emphasis on digital e-reading. But I wasn't prepared for the powerful, jarring memories that assaulted me in there.
We used to take our three little girls to dinner at a restaurant next-door, and then afterwards what a treat it was to watch our girls roaming the aisles and exploring all the wonders. All of a sudden (my youngest used to say "all of the sudden") I could see my beautiful young women as the little girls they used to be, filled with wonder at what the bookstore held. Their gangly pre-adolescent legs tucked under them as they curled up with a book in one of the stuffed chairs. Sitting on the floor with them in the children's section reading some beautifully-illustrated story out loud. "Daddy, can we get this book, or this beautiful notebook, or this cool bookmark, or a hot chocolate at the drink bar." Yes of course we can.
What a joy it was to watch their wonder, to see which books caught their interest, to bring home an armload of new books for them to devour until our next visit. They were amazing little girls who brought me such joy and still do as the amazing women they are now.
I had a lot of trouble holding it together last night and even now as I write this. As a father you treasure every minute that you remember of them growing up. You wish you would have made even more memories, or could just remember more of them. It's hard to look back sometimes. But you focus on the new memories those magnificent girls are making for you now and everyday. And you try to the live in the present!
Thank you Barnes & Noble for the great memories. How wonderful it was to have a bookstore!