My Mother’s Books

The novels from Mum’s shelves were all donated but I kept the New Zealand books about birds, animals, shells, plants, Maori place names and history. One of the more interesting history books was about the Napier earthquake which she had experienced first hand. She was at school in Napier at the time and witnessed the deadly destruction. I stored it and the others in case I returned to New Zealand in the future.

Mum loved cutting out articles from newspapers and magazines. She enclosed items in the letters she wrote to my sister and me in Canada. Sometimes her thinking was obvious, the cutting concerned a person we knew but sometimes, we had no idea why she had selected it. I remember looking at the back and the front trying to figure it out and giving up the struggle. She pasted all kinds of articles into her scrapbooks. Like her envelope cuttings, the intent is not always clear. Perhaps I will keep the ones with reference to our family but I haven’t decided.

My mother wrote up a diary every night before she went to bed. She used a specific type of diary and often I had to hunt down a copy as diaries became less common. She recorded her day’s events, commented on the weather and wrote down the temperature as given in the local newspaper. We tried to point out that the temperature actually was the high for the previous day but she didn’t believe us. This meant that if you wished to check on the temperature for March 16 2010 you looked at the reading she’d written for March 17th. i kept the diary from 2013, the last year of her life. Incidentaly, my sister also had the diary habit and I kept her last one

i was amused to see the autograph book which had verses and comments in it written by her friends. I also had one when I was young and it wasn’t a celebrity type book. Autograph books were very popular for a couple of years and mine contained verses like these: LOVE MANY, TRUST FEW, ALWAYS PADDLE YOUR OWN CANOE. And this one gem where you filled in the name of a girl and the boy she liked. BARBARA AND ——–SITTING IN A TREE. K I S S I N G, FIRST COMES LOVE THEN COMES MARRIAGE. NEXT COMES SOMEONE IN A BABY CARRIAGE. The entries in Mum’s autograph book were more classy.

Then of course there was the birthday book where my mother recorded the dates of friends and family birthdays. Sometimes the day had been filled in by a young child and I noticed the awkward printing of the kids who lived across the road. Like many in the days before computers, Mum kept address books with people crossed out as they changed locations or died.

I will probably keep most of these books. I can see Mum consulting them during her life and filling in the relevant details with her hard-to-read hand writing. I can’t see myself throwing them out. Not yet anyway.