You would be 108 today. I’m sure you wouldn’t be happy about that. You resisted years like granite resists water. It took you 75 to confess your proper age—and then you did so with a slight smirk of triumph. I remember all those forms that asked your age; you stubbornly scratched in 21+ while mumbling, “It’s none of your damn business!”
Well, you live on through My Life With an Enigma. I don’t imagine you’d be much happier about what’s between the covers than you were about age-related questions. But writing the book may have provided me with a slight bit of insight into who you were and why you were who you were. And the book has entertained and pleased readers—with a few understandable exceptions. Maybe this greeting will bring your story to a few new readers.
I thought of you yesterday when I went to The Cabin to collect a stack of books that came with my subscription to Readings & Conversations (R&C). R&C are original lectures by noted authors on topics of their choice. The Cabin presents a six-pack or so of these events each season and in recent years books by the authors have been an added perk.
As I came home with this bag of pristine books, I reflected on one of my favorite times with you, Mother. Remember our visits to Books-A-Go-Go? I was in junior high when the store first opened. I think we went once a month or so, and it was a unique time when I felt happy to be sharing something with you. While you were busy looking for your treasures, I was free to roam the stacks and select my treasures. This was one of the few times when I was free to choose just what appealed to me. You were still intent on purchasing my school clothes when they went on sale at the end of the season, usually while I was sequestered in school. I’d come home to find your bargains spread across the living room. I was supposed to be thrilled. In reality, I was horrified and angry. Why couldn’t I pick my own clothes, as all my friends did? Why did I have to always be a year behind everyone in styles? (Actually more like five years behind since fashion arrived in Laramie about as fast as a hot summer day.) But at the bookstore I had free rein. As closing time approached, I’d waddle up to you, a stack of books threatening to escape my arms. You’d cock your head and ask how many? Invariably I’d picked more than your purse could afford so I had to whittle down the selection, but even the whittling process was my own, so I was okay with that.
Then, with books purchased and bagged, we’d head home. In the car I’d fondle my new books, crack them open and stick my nose into the center to draw in the delectible aoma of fresh paper and ink. There’s no smell like it. It is still intoxicating to me. I’m off for a whiff of my new books right now. Far fewer calories there than in a deluxe slab of chocolate birthday cake.