Keepsakes and memories
Over the weekend, in an attempt to start the new year with a tidy apartment, I finally went through 4 brown bags of my mother’s books.
Sally was quite the reader. When I was a kid, her favorite spot was curled up in bed, two pillows propped behind her, reading a book. Around 9PM I’d bring up her favorite beverage: Lemon Soothers tea with honey and a wedge of fresh lemon. Settling the mug on a pink Kleenex coaster, she’d smile at me and then turn back to Tuesdays with Morrie or the newest smutty novel from Danielle Steel. Occasionally I’d bring a book upstairs and hijack Dad’s side of the bed, eager to snuggle beside her.
But these 4 bags didn’t include Morrie or Danielle. These were my mom’s books from her 20s. How do I know? On the front flap of each book she wrote her maiden name and NYC west village apartment. The collection was a strange mix: trashy ‘70s romance, classic poetry, Jewish fiction, and female anatomy 101.
My question to you: What do I do with my mother’s books? Will holding onto her books help me hold onto my mother? Or is it just paper bound together, collecting dust on a shelf, better suited for Salvation Army than for offering me any salvation? Do we need keepsakes to remember the dead?