The Coloring Book

After the fever had run its course

and the word contagious had ceased

to be murmured in hushed voices, he

brought me a Lassie coloring book at

least two inches thick. Sat on the edge

of the bed and told the story, paging

through the black and white drawings

and explaining how Lassie would

always need to look the same; that

I needed to decide how to correctly

color a collie and then keep to it,

although I might change the color

of its collar now and then. He

suggested I go through and read

all the pages; divide the book into

action over a few days, dress the

characters the same, follow along.

It was something to keep, he said,

along with his boyhood copy of

The Last of the Mohicans and his

series by Thornton Burgess with all

the animals. Time finally ran its

course, too, and the cover fell off

and the pages yellowed, then got

brittle until even the waxy crayon

couldn’t hold together. But I

remember that first art lesson,

the one that taught me about

writing and life, so that when

Daddy’d run his course, I still had

the memory of a blue cover, a

beautiful collie, a caring Dad.