What does a person do with 1,800 books after the owner dies? If one supports our local library, they have a book sale and donate the proceeds to Friends of the Solon Public Library. That’s what my friend Pat did after her husband Ron died just before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in 2020.
While visiting Pat after COVID-19 had been normalized in Iowa, she offered me what books I wanted. I took one, and said I would just wait until the sale to buy more. Sometimes a person has to show up.
Besides sating my immediate reading wants and perceived needs, the sale was a chance to catch up with people in the community. The people I knew had retired or were scaling back to part time work. Our community has a small yet devoted group of readers and will show up for a book sale.
A younger me would have brought home a lot of books. Instead, I made a free will donation for these seven. I hope to read them all, likely beginning with Pat Conroy’s memoir. It will not be the same as having a conversation with Ron, who was not only well-read but could talk intelligently about almost any topic. Reading Ron’s books is no substitute for those conversations, yet that is where we are.
Iowa is among the least educated states in the country. Those of us outside academia who pursue intellectual interests get to know each other and support our public library. In our community of several thousand people there are not many of us. When someone dies, or experiences a stroke, dementia, or Alzheimer’s Disease it is a substantial loss. We are of an age when that possibility is tangible.
The first snow fell in small flakes as I left for the sale. It continued while I was browsing books, and until I arrived home. Winter has not arrived, just a reminder of it. For me that means hunkering down in the warmth of our home to read and write until spring. Those of us who remain must go on living. That’s what I plan to do.
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