Mom loved reading. She always had magazines and books, especially her Bible and devotionals, nearby on her side table. In the beginning of what we now know was the slow, unrelenting slide into dementia, she would line and underline words. She would study rather than speed through a section of words. Living in her house, I occasionally come across a magazine or article she had saved. I can practically pinpoint the year by how it was marked.
Although she would never have qualified to be on the show “Hoarders,” she definitely was a collector of paper (along with many other things). Her desk was full, and there are boxes and drawers still overflowing with cards, newspaper articles, and photographs. Dad occasionally pulls a box out to go through, but it is so hard for him, even though he doesn’t seem to hold on to many things. I have told you what a romantic he is and the cards he gave her over the years certainly show it! He struggles to let go of the paper and does more shuffling and resorting than he’d like to admit.
I am no help. In fact, I’ve been on a personal mission to collect Mom’s handwriting. She had beautiful penmanship and I love seeing it. Every “Love, Mom” letter has been stored carefully, and each time I see her strong “Ruth P. Bunn,” my heart aches and I put the letter away because I cannot bear to throw it out. Here are her books, her magazines, and even random scraps of paper from the last few years bearing witness to her touch. Those emblazoned with her signature are set aside for future reading.
I have just finished listening to a wonderful book Nora, Nora by Anne Rivers Siddons. Dad found this one and shared it with me (he listens to books on tape as he walks every morning.) This was a long one, but I really liked some of the advice given by Nora to the main character, a young girl named Peyton. Peyton is an avid reader and Nora encourages her to write and learn to be an author. They have long talks about life, and I think I would have liked to have such a friend as Nora when I was thirteen. My favorite line of all is when Peyton’s father explains Nora’s character:
…we thought she was a butterfly and we rode her wings. All the while she needed an anchor and we need to see that….. Nobody’s safe and nobody’s free. There’s only somewhere between. The only thing we can ever be is human and that ends up breaking our hearts. … In the end, all we can ever be is just us.
I think Mom would have liked the idea of this quote. She always encouraged me to be just me. I would love to share it with her, to discuss as we once did of ideas we would read. When I find an article with her marks, I wish I could show it to her and ask her about it. The day she could no longer read and comprehend was a very sad one for me.
Since she’s unable to communicate new ideas with me, I am so grateful for the scraps of paper and books – recipes and crafts and thoughts she saved. I cherish each one, as if she’s still sharing her thoughts and ideas. Although some may accuse me of hoarding, too, I’m going to hang onto these pieces of her life that she saved. I hope I can keep “reading” them for a long time!