The first person who gave me the love of words was my dad. He didn't have much free money, but sometimes with that money, he bought himself books. Most of his books were DIY or engineering books, science, mechanics, and, oddly, some of the supernatural and Erich von Däniken "Chariots of the Gods" type stuff of the 70s. But every so often he opened up the word books.
Dad's books were celebrations of language, specifically the English language. He had several books in that little glass-fronted book shelf in his room that were entitled things like "The Romance of Languages", "Words and their Origins", and William Safire's "On Language". At those rare times when he could relax and pick up a book, he would lay down, turn on his little reading light, and start thumbing through a book. At those times, I'm sure he would have preferred to be alone. But the sound of that little light turning on was like a call to intimacy for me. I would lay down next to him and read over his shoulder.
I loved learning the history of words, how their use evolved over time, how new words are coined. It's a fascinating study.
When Dad died, none of my sibs expressed much interest in his books; I gathered up arm loads of language books and brought them home. In my little shrine to Dad's library, I have some of my favorite books, books that I shared with Dad and that I, now, share with my own kids.
What would I say to him today?
I often told him, before he died, that my love of reading and of language came from him. That would make him smile. I'm glad he knew about this since there really wasn't much else that we shared. Sadly.
Logophile: Lover of words