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Down the Hobbit Hole

June 8, 2011

One of my favorite memories is of my father reading The Hobbit to my brother and me. I was six years old, and my brother was seven. Our family was traveling through Texas and the Southwest in a rented RV on a month-long adventure that included, among other things, visiting Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon, gazing at the brilliant multitude of stars in the middle of the Arizona desert, and getting snowed in with chicken pox in northern Texas at Christmas. It was one of the truly formative periods of my childhood.

But it was more than one kind of adventure. Every night for most of that trip, before we all went to bed, Dad would read a chapter from The Hobbit. I remember sitting on the bunk in the back of the RV, closing my eyes, and listening with rapt attention to find out what would happen when Bilbo engaged in a battle of riddles with Gollum, floated down the river in a barrel, and encountered the dragon Smaug in the mountain. I dreamed at night of climbing into the trees and waiting for the eagles to carry me away to safety. Every night, the real world floated away as my father’s voice carried this other world off the page and into my head.

Dad was the Gandalf to my Bilbo, ushering me onto the open road and adventure through books, especially fantasy and science fiction. When I decided that I wanted to write my own adventures, he believed in me and encouraged me more than anyone else. And he always had another good book for me to read.

Two years ago, on June 8th, 2009, Dad lost a brief battle with kidney cancer. He passed away the day after my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. He was 57 years old.

I wish very much that I could talk to him now, share with him the stories that I’m reading and the stories that I’m writing, and hear him share his own stories. But I imagine him now at the prow of a ship pointed West, following the stars to guide him to the Undying Lands.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Antonio Arganda Hussa permalink
    June 9, 2011 9:07 am

    As good a eulogy as I have ever heard. Doug would be very proud of you.

  2. Norman Cooper permalink
    September 24, 2012 10:41 am

    Beautiful. My uncle was my Gandalf…

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