Friday, August 10, 2007

Barb, Books + Birthdays

Today would have been my mother's 80th birthday. I can't imagine her at 80. She died at 58.

She hated being photographed, and I have no photos of her past the age of around 30. She razored herself out of every photo she could find.

I recently found her yearbooks from 1941 and 1942, in which she chronicled what happened to upper classmen as they entered the war: killed in action, taken prisoner in the Solomons, missing in action, taken prisoner by Nazis.

I knew they all grew up together, but it's odd to see it: there is my mother, standing two rows back from her future brother- and sister-in-laws. All of my aunts and uncles on both sides are in these pages.

Her name was Barbara. She used to take books out of my hands (I was an obsessive reader). I think she wanted me to be part of the real world, and also do things like come to dinner and eat with the family.

Yesterday, another woman named Barbara put a book in my hands and asked me to read it. My mother would be shocked and (hopefully) pleased that it's part of my job.

3 comments:

dixiedreams said...

a touching piece. i'd like to see one of her pictures. i think the "razored" is especially telling. this would be a wonderful start to a long essay.

dork said...

My dad is 80. He is a shell of his former self. Not much energy and he's all fuzzy upstairs. His short term memory is just about gone.
His parents were cousins- not first cousins but related just the same.
I guess small towns offered limited supplies. Almost everyone I knew from his hometown was an aunt, cousin, or brother and sister. It was a strange era to put it mildly.

Sorry about your mom. I am sure she would be very proud of you. You have done really well for yourself. You work has made the world a better place to be.

dixiedreams said...

my mother writes in her bible all of the days people are born and died and, in my case, when my first marriage and divorce happened. she also has a collection of pictures with people cut out of it who are no longer in our lives.