By the end of fourth grade I'd read almost everything in our elementary school library. Well, everything I found any interest in, at least. Fourth grade was a year for Boxcar children, Alfred Hitchcock & the Three Investigators, and Nancy Drew. When those ran out, the lighter, less absorbing Sweet Valley Highs. I didn't care for those much, really, but I read everything I could get my hands on without prejudice at the time. Fifth grade was a lonely year.
In sixth grade, I was thrilled to get to the junior high and have access to their library. There I discovered Frank L. Baum, and the Land of Oz. This was also the year I met the one character I most related to, in any book: Anne Shirley.
Like me, she was set apart, as she was an orphan, and I was an emotional orphan. We had red in our hair, overactive imaginations, and extensive vocabularies. We both had tempers and led rural lives. Through her, Lucy Maud Montgomery taught me the meaning of genuine friendship, how to stand up for your own truth even if it's unpopular with those around you, to stand firm against bullies, and that true family was a matter of spirit and caring, not blood.
I loved her like a sister, like a self I barely yet understood. As she grew and became a teacher, I longed for this future, too. She was "proof" someone like me could find a place in the world, that intelligence and a love of learning could amount to something. She was hope.
She was an irrepressible, funny, kind, and good-hearted role model. Writing this has made me realize how much I miss her. I can't wait to read the series to my daughter.
© Lune Wolfsong, July 22, 2007. Written for a Write On writing group prompt.