One of my favorite writers is Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I was introduced to her years ago, when I was on a break from college and visiting my grandmother. Gram and I shared a love of books, and our discussions often centered around our favorites.
Her home was full of books, all nestled in white, painted bookcases, lining walls or tucked in rooms throughout the house. When I visited, Gram often would present me with a new book, and the year she gave me Gift from the Sea by Anne Lindbergh, she opened up a whole new world to me.
Anne was a writer, the kind of writer so many of us aspire to be. Whether she was all alone in a cottage by the sea or in a little camper trailer or a tent set up in the far corners of the land on one of the estates she lived in with her husband, the aviator Charles Lindbergh, to me her life as a writer seemed magical and effortless. In her timeless Gift from the Sea, she wrote about women's lives in such a way that millions of women could identify with back in 1955 and still do today. With the heart of a poet, she wove together her love for the seashore with her thoughts of being a wife, mother and artist.
In the years following my visit, I went on to read most of the Lindbergh books -- Anne's five-volume series of diaries and letters, Charles' autobiography, Anne's books about their air travels together. I gathered the books as I prowled the aisles and searched the shelves of used book stores. It was quite a treasure hunt, finding the titles: Bring Me a Unicorn (Anne's account of their meeting and their courtship); Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead, (the tragedy of their baby boy); Locked Rooms and Open Doors; The Flower and the Nettle (the years they lived abroad), and, finally, War Within and Without (the World War II era and the fall from grace).
I became so absorbed with the couple's lives, that I've since read books written about them, my favorite being Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg. The Lindberghs led lives that were fascinating and also quite heartbreaking. As a young married couple they flew all over the world together to explore and chart routes for the country's first commercial airline. They suffered much sorrow in their lives during the kidnapping and death of their baby boy, the firstborn of their six children.
Sadly, what seemed to the world a fairy tale marriage -- that of the famous heroic aviator and the lovely, doe-eyed daughter of a United States Senator and the country's Ambassador to Mexico -- would be revealed as a tenuous union in later years.
Charles Lindbergh died in 1974 at the couple's home in Maui, and is buried in a small church cemetery with a modest stone marking the grave. Anne died in 1971 at the age of 94.
My gratitude today isn't related to this post. Wednesday is the day my daughter goes to her religious education class. I'm thankful for the instructor who teaches the class. He has five kids of his own, but finds the time to share his faith with my child and a classroom full of other 12-year-olds.