When Anna Dewdney passed away on September 3rd, she left more than a series of children’s books behind. Her “Llama Llama” series will define her legacy to the masses of parents like me who have read (and re-read, and re-read) her lovely tales of Mama and Baby Llama.
As good as those books are, the favor Dewdney asked of her friends and admirers in lieu of a funeral is just as timeless and poignant.
The famous author and illustrator’s final wish was that an hour be spent with our kids, reading them a book. The request took me aback.
I thought about Dewdney having enough perspective to ensure the end of her battle with cancer at the age of 50 would not squash her mission to encourage global literacy. She knew how precious and important those moments are.
Her wish hit home with me.
Although our bedtime routine does include a book or two, I’d be lying if I failed to admit that I rush through the pages on most nights. I’m anxious for a few more minutes of a quiet house, a chance to throw another load of laundry in the washer, or trying to catch the kickoff of the big football game.
I’m thankful that I came across Anna Dewdney’s request when I did – before I’ve lost too much time with my young kids.
Honoring Dewdney’s last wish does not require a parental intervention or overhaul – it’s about simple acts.
Maybe if she’d written the story, the hook-line would have read: “Llama Llama I’ll take time to do nada.”
Nada, for me, means less fancy soccer academy and more kicking a ball in the front yard together.
Nada is less opting for take-out and more letting the kids help with a homemade recipe.
Nada involves swimming laps less and playfully splashing in the pool more.
This all seems easy on the surface. For me, though, trying to provide everything makes doing nada difficult.
I spend most of my free time and discretionary income trying to manufacture such timeless memories – throwing glitzy birthday parties or going store-to-store to find the perfect gift for my kids during the holidays.
I’m reminded of a past Christmas morning when, after the jolly, fat guy from the North Pole had left and there were no presents remaining under the tree, my five kids drew more enjoyment making (and wrecking) a box fort than playing with their shiny, new toys.
Dewdney’s final favor, for me, is expressly about literacy but subtly about the power of simplicity for families – the lesson I learned erecting the Christmas-box fort with my children a few years ago.
Anna Dewdney has me rightfully refocused on these small, simple things.
Indeed, today: “Llama Llama I’ll take time to do nada.”
There is magic in this time spent doing nothing together. That is where the real memories are formed.
Doing nothing can mean everything.
Thank you, Anna Dewdney, for reminding me so.