Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Remembering My Dad Through Books
My dad died in 2002. My brother and I still have items from our parents, some of which we will keep as keepsakes and heirlooms, some of which we will let my kids have, and some of which we will not keep.
There were three books that belonged to my dad when he was a kid in the 1920's and 30's. About a year ago, my brother found them in a box of our parent's things and gave them to me. Knowing they were old and rather fragile, I took pictures, then I put each of the books in a separate ziploc bag.
(I like my dad's kidscrawl signature. I also like the list of books that was in the back of one of the books...DON COYOTE is a fun title, as is SEM'S MOROCCAN LOVE.)
I'd put the books behind some other things in our own bookcase, and last week we found them again. They were moldy, the mold smell strong without even opening the plastic bags.
In the moist Pacific Northwest, keeping mold at bay can be a challenge. We didn't need to invite mold into our home. So I threw them away.
Writing this, I feel a pang of regret. I didn't do any research on how to keep old books (maybe one does not even put old books in plastic bags). I just didn't want anything toxic in our house. It was a reactionary move.
In my defense, these were books I'd never seen when I was growing up. My dad never showed them to us or talked about them with us. I don't know where he kept them. They just ended up in a box with some of their stuff that my brother found several years after he died.
There is a book that my dad DID share with me when I was a teenager. He gave it to me to read and told me it was one of his favorite books. I've read it several times. This book is in a prominent place on our bookshelf. There is a sticker on the inside back cover that said he got the book at The Emporium for 39 cents.
The three books that are no longer with us had his signature, which was pretty great.
However, I have other remembrances of my dad. There are letters my dad wrote and sent when he was about seven years old. He wrote these letters to his brother, who was 13 years older and had left home to go to college. I have loved seeing these letters, giving me glimpses into what my dad was like as a kid.
Should I have thrown away the three books? I don't know. I do know that I have other ways to remember my dad, and that is what is important to me.
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