Every time I drop by Mom's house these days, I come home with something new. Or rather, something old. Usually it's something I can use, like a wok.
Come to think of it, what am I going to do with a wok? Or the bottom half of a double boiler? Well, they seemed like good ideas at the time.
Mom is moving next weekend. She's packed and ready, mostly. We're having a garage sale for her the following Saturday, so she can get rid of some of the things that won't fit into her new apartment. She's losing about half the available storage space that she has in her mobile home.
Today was a little different. She was looking through her old scrapbooks, not having a place to pack them but not wanting to throw them out. She asked me what she should do with them, but I couldn't make that decision. I did agree to bring them home with me, so at least she doesn't have to decide before she moves whether to toss them or not.
When I looked through the albums, I started to feel an improbable nostalgia for the ten years or so before I was born, because they seem to be pretty well documented. I can understand how hard it must be for my mother to part with things she's been saving since before, during and shortly after World War II. There is, in fact, one entire album of wartime cartoons clipped from the newspaper.
But even more than that, I found the cards she received at her sixteenth birthday party, and the following Christmas and Valentine's Day. (She was very popular, by the way, and I wonder how much all those boys knew about each other. It was a small town, so I can't imagine secrets would have been easy to keep, even if she cared to do so.)
She saved some of her school assignments, including a homemade world atlas that consists mostly of various types of maps cut out and pasted onto scrapbook pages. This was 1943, though, so even that has some historical resonance. There are maps showing the allegiances of the world's nations during the war. Occupied France is shaded gray, while Vichy France is shown in blue. The Axis countries are all green.
Mom's bridal scrapbook includes cards from well-wishers at the time of her wedding, and also from her baby shower the following year. In those cards, by the way, I am referred to as the "dear little bundle," and the "baby-to-be." Someone had the audacity to wish I would be twins.
Obviously, there's no way I'm throwing any of this stuff away. I probably knew that before I even started looking at it.