Like just about everyone, I’ve been thinking about my mother today. She’s been gone more than twenty years now (that’s hard to believe by itself!), and I still miss her. I think of her when I read a book or see a TV show or movie that I know she would like, when I spot an old movie she loved on the TV schedule, when so many things happen that I wish I could share with her.
My mother taught me so much, as mothers do, but the love of reading that she raised me with probably had more influence on the person I grew up to be than anything else. Mom had only a high school education, as did most women of her generation, and she wasn’t particularly fond of school (my brother inherited that preference, but I loved school), but she never stopped learning, because she never stopped reading.
Mom read voraciously. She loved mysteries and science fiction. She didn’t read genre romance, but she loved historical novels. She loved humor. She kept a list of Agatha Christie novels and their alternate titles because she got tired of picking up what she hoped was a new one and finding she’d already read it. She made little marks on the inside covers of books when she finished reading them, but she never dog-eared a page.
Over the years she introduced me to all the English mystery novelists and most of the Americans, to John Wyndham’s science fiction and Jean Shepherd’s humor, to The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, to The Wind in the Willows and T.H. White’s Mistress Masham’s Repose.
A few years after my dad died, Mom sold her house to a woman who also loved books and was happy to take the bookshelves fully loaded. There just wasn’t enough room in my house to accommodate Mom’s library, not on top of the collections Jack and I had accumulated. I still have most of the books she did bring along when she moved in with us. I wish I knew what became of that 1939 movie tie in edition of Gone With the Wind, with its eight by ten inch two-column layout and color plates from the film. I expect it simply disintegrated; the last time I remember seeing it, the spine was covered in brown tape.
When the woman who bought my mother’s house moved on, she sent me a matched set of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, also big two-column books; both have my parents’ book plates, and one is inscribed “to my Valentine, February 14, 1946, Ken.”
Miss you, Mom! Wish I could share all the books I’ve read in the last twenty years with you.