Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bookshelves, Once Again

I am essentially done cleaning my father's office. I took the last batch of books, 13 boxes, to HalfPriceBooks this afternoon. That was the second of two loads, actually. The first was taken earlier in the morning. All told, today's "haul," if I can call it that amounted to fifty bucks. We were able to get roughly 200 dollars for everything. That's about a hundred dollars more than we were offered by a "bookdealer" who came to look at my dad's library about two weeks ago.

As I've written earlier, my dad had very definite interests, mainly World War II, presidential history, and Civil War. There were other topics, but those were the main three. A few years back he decided to take off all the dustcovers of his books. He did this to "make more room" on his shelves. It wouldn't of been so bad if he hadn't thrown away said covers, but he did. So, as a result the value of the books (monetarily to a collector, let's say) was cut by more than half. I have learned that the book collector doesn't necesarily care about what's inside the book, so long as the bookcover is pretty.

I should have kept count of how many box loads I took out. I probably took about twenty boxes today all told; I kept using the same boxes over and over again. So, now I have his empty bookcases. There are actually five. Three of them match, the other two don't match. The other two are from Walmart, or someplace like that and we're going to get rid of them. One of the bottom shelves is broken, but the other bookcase looks to be in pretty good shape. The other three, are big 'cases. They were made by a parishoner of my dad's in South Dakota. They're probaly close to 45 years old, if not a bit older than that and they are still in pretty good shape. They're banged up a bit, that shouldn't be surprising since they moved around the country five or six times. They have little black lines on them, those lines are actually kind of endearing. My father took a Sharpie marker to them one time. He marked off where the shelves went on each case so he could set his books up liek they were before we moved. I used to get on him about that, telling him to clean them off, but he wouldn't and, in retrospect, I'm kind of glad he didn't. It is those kind of things that bring a smile to me when I think about him.

Today, after I was all done with the books I sat down on the rug in his old office and just looked at the empty shelves. I smiled a little bit and I think I might of choked up a bit, too. It is strange the attachment we put on inanimate objects. Those bookcases: 7' tall, 39" wide, blonde wood. They are on hand, just bookcases. Well built bookcases, but bookcases. However, they are more than that, at least to me and my mom. Soon, I will start moving some of my books onto my dad's shelves. I guess they are technically "mine," now, but I will alway refer to them as "my dad's shelves." I know that I've used the picture that sits atop this entry before, but for some reason, I really love that picture. It doesn't show all of his books, but it shows the vast majority of them.

It has been a cathartic excercise, this. Sifting through a life through books, I know I've written that before, please forgive my repetion. But it has been a good experience. Going through his books, touching them, it has been act of "letting go." I didn't cry or really mourn my father's death. I think part of the reason is my Faith in the Word of God, but also the fact that I had a month with him after he got sick. We were able to say our goodbyes, it wasn't a surprise. In fact, on some level there might have been relief, as horrible as that might sound. I knew that if he had survived he would have hated life. So, I was able to talk to him as I went through his books. I found myself "asking" him why'd you get this book dad? Did you ever even read this one? I flipped through each book to look for things he might have squirreled away. I found piced of paper that held his place where he left off reading, I found pamphlets from places he went to that had something to do with the topic of the book (I didn't find any money or anything like, though).

On a weird level, it was fun. I enjoyed going through the things. It was also satisfying on another level being able to discover him. Yes, he is missed, but I'll always have him through his bookcases. And for that, I am well pleased and grateful.

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