Today, my sister and I are moving our mother into assisted living. She flew up a few days ago to stay with me while we waited for her things to be moved from southern California. My brother and his three kids are visiting from Oregon (not staying with me).
When I told my mother that I’d cleared out my garage to make room to store her extra things, she said, “Oh, I’ve got to clean out my garage. I’ve got so many boxes in there.”
We sold her house. An estate agent is selling what was left behind. There was very little in the garage. Twelve years ago, she cleared out the boxes. I got a stack of my high school newspapers.
In packing her things, I found a notebook she kept for a master’s thesis on children’s literature.
As a first grader, I read The Cat in the Hat and moved on to Buffalo Boy, Sandy and the Balloons, The Little Mermaid Who Could Not Sing, “true” books about pioneers, oceans, animal babies, deserts, cowboys, and freedom and a lot more. The only one I remember is Cat in the Hat — and possibly Buffalo Boy.
My sister, a second grader, read Bambi, Little Women, The Secret Garden, The Jungle Book, Black Beauty, Stuart Little, The Rachel Field Story Book and more. I remember all those vividly.
Our mother read us Black Beauty when we were too young to read to ourselves. We loved it. She thought it was sentimental slop. When she finished, we begged her to read it again. She did. Years later, I reread Black Beauty. It is sentimental slop.