After two months of my mother being in and out of hospital, she was finally offered a place in the nursing home of our choice, one where we knew she’d be happy. But we’ve had to move her from a two-bedroom unit to one room, and it’s sad to think that a lifetime of possessions now has to be condensed to fit this new part of her life.
I’ve always known Mum was a hoarder, but what we’ve discovered amazed me, especially as she and my late step-father moved here only six years ago and so much had to be discarded on that move. The hardest part of all this is having to decide what books can move with her and what can’t. But I’ve found one little treasure that has reminded me that I too, am a hoarder – but a hoarder of words. Along with all the other books – classics, romances, poetry, atlases, etc – I found a slim volume titled “The Treasure of Friendship”, and tucked inside were some yellowed pages from a magazine that, when folded, became a small booklet of poems.
One of these poems is “Love is a Solvent” (copyright 1971) by Patience Strong. An internet search revealed that was the pen name of English poet Winifred May, who died in 1990. I’d love to share this poem with you, but copyright law prohibits this. But if you get a chance to read this poem, please do so.
So why am I mentioning this? Well, my mother and I are as different as it’s possible for two people to be. We love each other, but have totally different outlooks, needs etc. I would need pages and pages to list our differences. But one thing we do share is a love of words. There were always books in our house, and I shall always be grateful for this gift, this love of reading, that she has given me. In turn, I have tried to pass this on to my children, and my heart is full of joy when I see my grandchildren, tiny though they be, demanding to have books read to them.
As I read through these crumbling pages that my mother has kept for so many years, I wonder if, many years in the future, my children and their children will one day discover a similar treasure when they are forced to decide what of their parents’ belongings are to be kept and what has to be discarded. I doubt that ebooks will have the same tug on heartstrings that this small volume, with its wishes from a friend for future happiness, has brought to me. I know that ebooks are here to stay, and I have embraced their practicality and their economy, and am grateful that my stories are now available to my readers for many years to come, but I think they cannot evoke the same sentimentality that I feel as I turn the pages of a book my mother has treasured for many decades of her life.
Have you a special book that you cannot bear to part with? Is there some collection of words that has moved your soul and stayed with you? I’d love to hear your stories.