January 28, 2015

Alone with the Books - Night Three

We all agree that the scholarly, and/or rare books, should go to Brandeis as was Gerda's wish. Surely they will be more loved and used there than just sitting on shelves at one of the kids' houses.

It's letting go of the collection as a whole that is so hard. It's why my brother so lovingly photographed them (and this is after a large chunk taken by some scholar friends). Why I made some rambling videos (one, two, three) last year after the memorial to remind myself what was here (even though yet more of the collection was down in the basement stored!). It's why sometimes I think, "why not have someone pack the whole lot up and we'll store it somewhere until I have a mansion big enough to display them all?"

Letting go to me also means letting go of my identity as the child of an East Coast intellectual family. Classical music, lots of books, lying on the oriental rug and asking my father lots of questions, listening to literary, philosophical, or scientific discussions among my parents and their friends and colleagues. I want that for my own child, but haven't given it to him. My world has changed. I read a lot online, listen to podcasts. Luckily my son gets the emphasis on oral storytelling that Waldorf school brings. But letting go of my old identity is still hard.

I don't really know how to say goodbye.

Alone with the Books - Night Two (12/10/14)

My second night alone at my mom's condo, which we are finally working in earnest on emptying, a little over a year after her passing.

There is no TV so I decided to pick up an actual book. My choices, while not infinite, are vast. I wind up having an encounter with Gerda's copy of James Gleick's Chaos. As my sister-in-law had been noting earlier that day, it is astounding how many of her books Gerda actually read, as irrefutably evidenced by her detailed underlining and margin notes.

Started becoming engrossed in it myself (even though I have read it before, I believe) and found the mention of Stanislaw Ulam and thought, "I think he worked with my Uncle Paul." Sure enough, turned to the index to find Paul Stein listed several times.