My grandparents moved out of their house over a decade ago. They had put their home of nearly thirty years up for sale without knowing where they would move. During the decades they had lived in the neighborhood, plenty of people had moved out and into their new dream home while the old one languished unsold. Their intention was to go apartment-shopping during the months the ‘For Sale’ sign would stand in their yard, inviting someone – anyone – to inquire about the house. Then, within a few weeks of hanging up the sign they had a buyer, a signed contract, and a quickly decided-on apartment. The only thing left to do was empty the house.
The process was a rush job with all family members pitching in. For my part, I inspected the new apartment with my sister, rode the U-Haul with my uncle, and neither damaged anything nor sustained injury. The essential items from their old house were moved into the apartment – furniture, dishes, books, selected artwork – but many things from their four-story house were disposed of during the move. Various relatives gave old possessions a new home while the best the house had to offer – a sandbox and two tricycles – were given to my sister and me. Everyone, and everything, settled into their new place, and that was the end of that.
Years later, when I was in high school, my Bubby began to give me books to read. First it was Exodus by Leon Uris, then O Jerusalem by Collins and LaPierre. I finished the first at home, and was given the second before I could return it. When I finished that story of the Israeli War of Independence – still the best account I’ve read of it – I returned both books to my grandparent’s apartment. Bubby refused to take them, and told me to keep them. I thanked her, but suggested that as they were her books she might want to read them again. “No,” she told me definitively, “I saved them for you when we moved. They’re yours, unless you don’t want them.”
Those books – along with Inside, Outside by Herman Wouk, Spring Moon by Better Bao Lord, and the others Bubby gave me over time – bore no resemble to each other, other than being well-written. There was no one category which encompassed all of the books, at least that I could figure. After pondering, I asked Bubby why she’d saved those particular books for so long. “I thought you might like to read them,” she shrugged.
I did like all the books, but even if I hadn’t Bubby would have been content. In her opinion, every book could – and for her it did – teach you something new. When she wasn’t able to get to the library herself I’d bring her books I liked and others I thought she’d want to read. Sometimes she was thrilled with my selection, other times she’d already read them, and occasionally Bubby thought they were bad. Every time I found I’d brought her a book she didn’t like, I’d apologize. She’d wave me off and tell me that it was fine – you learn something in everything you read.