Happy birthday, Mr. King

This post is for my dear mother (or Ma, as I like to call her).

Stephen King turned 70 today and I was reminded of how I’d found the author who became my hero, my inspiration. I’ve always loved reading and I’m drawn to books like a moth to flame, no matter where I am. I’m one of those people who will enter a new friend’s home, zero in on their bookshelves and scan the titles to see what we have in common. If I could get away with it, I’d do nothing else but read.

The first King book I ever read was Christine. My brother’s girlfriend at the time let me borrow her copy and I was instantly captivated, completely hooked by how the man chose to string his words together. From that book, a serious love affair began. I didn’t just love to read anymore, I NEEDED to. I became obsessed, declaring I’d devour every word the man ever published.

Ma was a single mother by that time and money was scarce. She’d always provided us kids with everything we needed—we never went without—but books were a luxury item and oh how I treasured my pretties. She’s a very thrifty woman and always planned ahead. She’d start buying Christmas presents in January, little by little, so we’d be spoiled with gifts come December. Being the youngest of four, she tended to spoil me a little more than the rest.

A few years after I’d discovered Mr. King, she’d dragged me out shopping with her. I think we were in K-Mart or some other giant chain store and, as usual, I went straight to the book department while she looked for whatever we were there for. She eventually found me browsing the display of Stephen King books, reading the back covers as I fantasised about loading up a trolley and buying them all. I’m sure she saw it written all over my face because the next words she spoke were like a dream come true. “Pick out ten books and I’ll layby them for you for Christmas.”

Say what? I’d hit the fucking jackpot!

That was one of my happiest childhood memories. Ma just got me. She nourished my passion for reading and fed it whenever she could. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

If it wasn’t for The King, and Ma, I don’t think I’d have ever chosen the path to be a writer. I would have put it in the “too hard” basket, regretting not taking the chance by the time I reach my death bed.

I still have those ten books (and many, many more), but those first ten will forever remain extra special because they came from a special woman with a special heart.

I love ya, Ma…and happy birthday Mr. King!