Posted by: pendrops | July 8, 2007

got to stay sharp


“Got to stay sharp,” I overheard her tell someone who asked about the computer graphics book she was reading one afternoon.

The lady, old enough to be my grandma, maybe great-grandma, wears a loose bun in her colored brown hair, an orange blazer, and a tropical skirt that brushes her ankles today. She’s in here every Sunday. We get to the bookstore about the same time on these afternoons and I find her, hobbling, hunch-backed as she is, through the racks of books.

I passed her in the business section on this sweltering Tennessee day, picking out books on HTML code and marketing strategies. In the past, I’ve seen her scanning everything from books about alternatives to oil, to Bono’s biography, to the latest novels by famous authors.

Once she has as many books as she can carry in her weak arms, she finds a table in the café, orders something sweet (today, carrot cake) along with a cup of tea, and dives into the words and worlds stacked before her.

Though the room around her buzzes, decibels rising and falling with the coming and going patrons and their laughable ring tones, she focuses intently on the pages, never once looking up until she has finished what she set out to read. When she rises to leave, she moves slowly, says something kind to the café workers, and smiles at each person she passes.

I admire this woman so far down the road from me. You’d think at this point in her journey she’d say, “I know all I need to know. I can live without learning how to write code. I can survive without understanding the ins and outs of the electric car. I think I’ll make it if I don’t read Purple Cow” (which, by the way, is genius).

Many of the things she reads about will not even come to fruition in her lifetime. But she reads anyway; ravenously reads. She carries her stooped frame with dignity. And she isn’t afraid to explore the world from a strip mall in Nashville. She’s got to stay sharp, after all.



  1. Isn’t it a bit creepy, you tailing the grandma every Sunday and all? You should at least write a story about her. 😉

    Of course who knows, there’s probably blog out there by some grandma where she mentions this young whipper snapper always in the same book store and goes on to lament the minority of today’s youths who care to read and learn like her generation did.

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