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October 23, 2019: I am My Mother’s Daughter

Last week I wrote a dispatch entitled “I am My Father’s Daughter.” It was about how my father encouraged what in time became a like-reading-related obsession. Today I realized that this narrative, while true, was woefully incomplete. This is because in this respect, I am also my Mother’s Daughter.

As my father was a reader, my mother was also a reader. One of my earlier memories is of us going together to the local library, and together, checking out books. We’d return home, and both stick our noses in our respective books. Sometimes, my mother would also read the books that I’d brought home.


My father’s reading-related tastes were highbrow, my mother’s more lowbrow. He was into philosophy and the classics. She was into mysteries and anything with a strong narrative. Me, I was into horse and animal books. So, I was middle brow.

Many years after my parents split up, my father moved to New Hampshire and opened his own book store. This was at a time when I was heading off to college. It was not a good economic decision as far as my mother was concerned because money invested in the bookstore really ought to have gone, instead, into Eleanor and my college educations.

This is the most interesting thing of all – my mother moved to Portland, Oregon in the 1980s, and for a while she worked for a florist. Then after that, she got a job at a used book store. Her job involved sorting through cartons of books and putting the best ones on shelves. At the time, I took a dim view of what she was doing because I believed she was, in her own way, attempting to follow in my father’s footsteps.

I still believe this is so; but I am saddened to think of the circumstances that centered around this job. She was paid minimum wage and not treated well at all by the bookstore owner. He was very condescending and didn’t at all acknowledge that she knew a great deal about the material on hand. Nothing would have pleased her more than having been treated as an equal and perhaps made co-owner. I wish, of course, she was still around so that I could tell her this.

I am my mother’s daughter. Here I am, now happily sorting through literally, hundreds of boxes of books. Though this is a volunteer position, I am enjoying it. I also am enjoying talking with those at the recycling center who share my love of reading and of books. I feel like doing this is in my DNA. It’s the same way I feel when I tend to the animals.

I have a lot of ideas as to where and in whose hands these books might go. I have been tossing these ideas out to those who work at VCRS, and they have been receptive to them. But first things first – for now I am going to remain focused on sorting the good books and the discards.

I wish my mother was still alive. If she visited, she’d give me an assist, I am sure. One of the greatest unfairness’s about life is that we grow older and wise. But sad to say, those who brought us into the world don’t live long enough to experience this.

Next: 294. 10/24/19: Files Management

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