Grandma's Books

My two or three faithful Cracked Spines readers may have noticed that I have not been posting much this week. Sadly, that is because my maternal grandmother died of brain cancer just a few days ago. I was sitting here trying to concentrate on work and get a book article up for you all. However, I have only one thing on my mind–grandma. So, I think I will write about my grandmother's books. Perhaps it will lead you all to think about your grandmothers and the books they may have had.

The first thing I should mention is that my grandmother and I did not have the same taste in books, for the most part. We are both huge readers, but my tastes run more to sci-fi, horror and non-fiction. She was a romance kind of lady, so our literary paths split a long time ago. However, we did share one passion and that is classical literature. Most of my favorite books come from her or her husband, my grandfather by marriage and the only grandfather I ever knew.

When I was young, I was doing my own thing book-wise. I paid little attention to the sagging bookshelves that existed in nearly every room of my grandparents' six-bedroom house. I would go there, get my obligatory stash of candy, goof off with grandpa and then go home. When I got older, I started paying more attention to those books. I realized that there were hundreds of hidden gems in that house. It was then that my grandparents, particularly my grandmother, started giving me books instead of candy. Somehow, I managed to finagle whole sets of classic literature. The works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens and Shakespeare now grace my shelves. I would go on to brag about my first editions, but I want you to keep reading.

These books represent the bond I had with my grandmother. In many ways, we were two very different people. What we had in common could not fill one book, but we had plenty to talk about. (My grandmother always had plenty to talk about.)

Two years ago, as of yesterday, my grandmother's and my whole family's lives changed forever. My grandfather died of cancer. Not long after, my grandmother was moved to an assisted living facility because their bookshelf-ridden house was too big for her. I suspect it was too sad for her as well. Her children and grandchildren were left to rummage through the house and take what was sentimental to us. For me, it was the books. I salvaged every one that I could. I wound up with Jack London, Louisa May Alcott and Joseph Conrad, to name a scant few. Sadly, hundreds, possibly even thousands of books were left behind. None of us could fit so many. To be honest, there were more romance novels and the westerns my grandpa loved than I could handle.

Today, I wish I had taken at least one romance novel. Looking at my bookshelf, I can see my grandparents on every shelf, but I do not see one of those books that were so often sitting open on her dining room table, cracked spine pointing up at the ceiling. Today, I would give anything to be able to take one of those silly damn books and read it so we would have something to talk about, anything to talk about, really.

Shelly Barclay

1 comment:

  1. You do have something, you have the memories you just poured out on this page and everything they have inspired in you since.