He bought it in 1946 for six pounds, which apparently was quite the sum back in the day. He’s 92 and wonderful, my darling neighbour, Joe, I’ll call him. The gigantic relic of a dictionary was his. Now it belongs to me.
Joe and I lounged in his well kept living room and sipped champagne to celebrate my family’s one year anniversary of owning our home. He had remembered, not us. We were flawed with gratitude and awe.
As we sat, he told me stories of his life; the pains, the joys, stories of beautiful friends and loved ones here and gone. I could have sat there all afternoon. Instead I settled for an hour and a champagne, and two home-made yoyo biscuits (made by a dear friend of his, and absolutely delicious, might I add.)
The dictionary came up in conversation and I mentioned how I’d planned to buy a special one myself, some day. Brooke, the writer; of course she’d need to invest in something so truly lovely, full of all that writerly goodness. And just like that, the dictionary, the precious illustrated dictionary, had become apart of our family.
I will cherish it for as long as I live. Not because it’s the dictionary I’ve always wanted, but because it will remind me of a beautiful soul that has touched my life deeply.
As I sat with him I told him, ‘Joe. You have such a pure soul,’ and it’s true. I’ve never felt a person quite like him and I wish there were more people in the world who felt as beautiful, to me.
The purest of hearts. The ones that lift us to be our best. The ones we all hope we might be for others.
I plan to go for tea again with him soon, my darling friend, Joe.
I cannot think of how I might repay his kindness.