Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My mother's library...

About a month ago or so my dad did me a huge favor and hired me to be his cleaning lady. It is the perfect job for this strange in between stage of my life where I still have a young child at home for 90% of the time and so I can't really find another job that wouldn't involve paying for some kind of daycare, which would render my working pretty pointless from a financial standpoint. But I can take Lila with me to my dad's, pull out the crayons and turn on Mickey Mouse which will usually buy me a solid hour of cleaning time. A lot of the time Lila helps me too, because for whatever reason the chores she balks at doing at home suddenly become fun at Grandpa's house.

I've been slowly working my way through his house, deep cleaning a room at a time. My dad is actually a fairly neat and tidy individual, but men just don't see dust the way women do I guess.

My latest project has been the library, or as I still call it the living room (because that's what that room was my whole life in that house and apparently my brain can't handle the change). My mom was a voracious reader and collector of books, and there are five 7' tall book shelves in that room crammed to the bursting point. My dad prefers to read on his kindle, which definitely collects less dust than book shelves full of books.

It's taken me two weeks, but I went through each and every book in that room. I organized and arranged the books by genre so it's easier to find what you're looking for. I dusted and polished and cleaned the windows, so there is better light for reading. I hauled out two kitchen garbage bags of trash and random papers and pamphlets that were mixed in with the books. I took twenty grocery sacks of books to the book exchange.

At first I felt a little uneasy, like I was dismantling the library my mother had built up, but as I spent hours sorting books and reading the blurbs on the back of them, I realized that she would be happier knowing her books were finding their way to people who would read and appreciate them, rather than having them sit moldering and collecting dust just because they once happened to be hers. And if there is one thing my mother taught me it was to enjoy reading and sharing the love of the written word with others.

I also found journals she'd written, about her garden and her book club. I found letters and cards others had written to her. It was a sweet moment to see her handwriting and read her thoughts, and to read other people's kind words and memories about her too. I feel like it's been a tender mercy to find these treasures the week before Mother's Day.

I think that the library is back on it's way to being what I'm pretty sure my mother envisioned it being, a relaxing place that invites you to browse through the shelves and curl up on the sofa with a good book for an hour or three. It's my favorite place at my dad's house, I like to sit quietly and visit with someone or read to one of my children when we are over visiting.