From the beginning I have loved the sound of words and the images they paint in my mind. I still remember the day when I realized that books were treasure houses of words and held meaning far beyond my comprehension.
I was a four-year-old live wire who climbed furniture and trees instead of playing with dolls. One cold winter day, when I kept begging to go outside, my mom bundled up my year-old sister and me and we three walked across the road and down a long lane to Grandma and Grandpa Porter's house. Grandma made her sweet hot chocolate. I stuffed the semi-melted marshmallow in my mouth, gulped my drink and was ready to climb into Grandma's laundry tub, Grandma had another idea. To entertain me while she and Mom sipped their chocolate and talked, Grandma gave me an oiled-feather duster and told me to dust her books.
The fragrance of lemon oil mixed with the natural aroma of leather slowly permeated the room. It was a heady scent, and I deliberately breathed deeper. A particular book caught my eye. It's paper cover was torn and had yellowed. Curious, I pulled it from the shelf and took it to Grandma. I was sure she would throw such an old thing away. Instead, she held the book to her breast. Tears spilled down her cheeks.
When Grandma found her voice, she told me that the "old thing" I had brought to her was indeed precious. It was a family history written by her sister-in-law, my great aunt Vella. Then she began the first of many family stories she would tell me over the years of my childhood.
Through Grandma's stories, people and places became imbedded in my mind and in my heart. People whom I had never met became some of my best friends. Places I had never seen became backdrops for my dreams. I wanted to share the gifts which came to me from my Grandma and her book, so I wrote Only With the Heart. It was my way of saying thank you.