Happy 70th Birthday, Robert Munsch!

Robert MunschThe first Robert Munsch book I read to my kids was ‘Love You Forever’. It was a popular book, although I didn’t know that fact when I read it to my kids.

The story begins with a couple and their newborn baby boy. The focus of the book is the bond of love between mother and son, and the never-ending circle of life.

This sweet story takes a humorous turn as the boy becomes a teenager. The mom goes into his room at night and holds him as if he is still a baby. The kids and I, start to giggle at this point, but we save our bust-a-gut laughter for the next page.

The son, a full-grown man, and newly married, sleeps beside his wife in his new home. The mom climbs a ladder to her son’s bedroom, crawls through the window and scoops up her son and cradles him while he sleeps.

The kids giggle at the absurd scene, and I laugh until the tears are running down my face. When I’m calm enough to speak, I ask the kids to imagine their Nana climbing through the window to hold Daddy in the middle of the night. There are fresh hoots of laughter.

I turn the page expecting more hilarity of the same kind, but when I start to read I have a lump in my throat, and my eyes well up. I was not expecting the tone of the story to change. The kids look up at me, prompting me to continue reading. I clear my throat and start.

The second half of the book is about the role reversal from caregiver to the care receiver. The mom is now elderly and frail, relying on her son to look after her. He gently picks her up and carries her to her bed. The love and tenderness that the son shows his mom reflects the love she’s given him his entire life. It is an exquisitely touching moment, and for a minute my eyes are too blurry to read more.

My kids look up at me and ask, “What’s wrong?”

“The mom dies,” I say.

I take a breath and turn the page not knowing what to expect. In the book, just like reality, life goes on. The son and his wife now have a baby girl. They gaze adoringly at their baby wrapped in their loving arms. And so the circle continues. Ending the book on a sweet, happy moment.

I turn to my daughter and say, “One day, this will be you and your dad.”

“He’ll creep through your window to cradle his baby girl, and then it will be your turn…” My breath catches in my throat. That’s enough about the circle of life for now.

Years later, I read why Munsch wrote, ‘Love You, Forever.’ He wrote it for his two stillborn babies; a tribute to the children he never knew.

“I like you for always, I’ll love you forever, as long as I’m living, my babies you’ll be.”

Happy Birthday, Robert Munsch, and thank you for all of your wonderful stories!

 

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