Originally Published: June 15, 2001 5 p.m.
I love you.
I always have. The second greatest gift my parents gave me was you.
When I was a youngster, I remember our Saturday morning trips to the public library. I could select three friends to spend the next few weeks with, and then I'd reluctantly return them to the safekeeping of the librarian and pick out several more. Luckily, I never felt fickle about the relationships I enjoyed with these friends. I never felt lonely either.
Now, I sit here in my study surrounded by your influences. To my right is a large grouping representing your past. I recall the days when the study of history was dull and tedious. No longer. Now I find this part of your existence exciting and full of provocative lessons.
In front of me are those special friends that provide me understandings and comprehension about how my mind works. I never tire of extracting personal insights into why I think and feel and behave as I do.
To my left are a gathering of diverse friends who don't seem to fit any particular genre, but each one is a precious reminder of how much they have contributed to my life and happiness.
In another library, guarded over by my wife, are old, dear friends she and I have collected over the past 50 years. Sometimes I sit in their presence and think about the joy that each has given me. I can't imagine my friendship with any one of them will ever end. Looking at their titles I reflect upon the stories each contains. Of course, I acknowledge I have favorites. Often I will select one to spend several days with or my Beloved and I will invite one or two to join us on a trip. They become splendid traveling companions.
One of the greatest and unanticipated benefits of my close relationship with you, Books, is that you have provided me with a passport to adventure and pleasure far beyond what I could imagine or experience on my own. My mind has been awakened, my heart has been filled with wonder and my life has been transformed through association with you. I have discovered that limitations of time, space and personal experience can be transcended when I am in your company. I can multiply my self and become both a participant of the past and the future without giving up my residence in the present.
This blessed opportunity to live more fully is the true gift you have given me. I have had not one life, but many, thanks to you. And I know I have more lives to live.
I can't wait to make new friends.
(Ron Barnes is a longtime Prescott resident and a semi-retired educator and businessman.)