|Papa in bookstore, consulting|
book directory before making
Anyhow, of all his collections, his books were by far, his most prized. His dream was to retire and build a library in the backyard of his Florida childhood home. He spoke of afternoons spent sitting in a rocking (or was it "easy?") chair, surrounded by his immense collection of books.
When I think of him now, of the afterlife, I know that's what it looks like for Papa. He's somewhere reading in a room surrounded by books.
Anyone who collects anything knows that some organization is required. For his books, my father kept a "Book Inventory." Basically it's a big binder with computer pages listing the titles he owned, when he read them, and what box they were then stored in. (The last printing/update was 02/25/2016.)
Just going through the Inventory taught me a lot of things -- about my father, and about life. (See, Papa? You're still teaching me!)
1. The most books in Papa's collection were authored by Louis L'Amour. (He loved westerns! In his honor, and because we recently stayed in the "Zane Grey" room at Historic Prospect Hotel near Crater Lake National Park, I am currently reading THE MYSTERIOUS RIDER by Zane Grey.)
2. GOD is an author. (This is how Papa organized different versions of the Bible in a inventory organized alphabetically by the author's last name.)
3. All my mss, whether they wound up published or not, counted as books and were listed in his collection alongside the published ones. I'm so grateful and honored.
4. There were no "X" authors in the collection. (Want to stand out? Choose a pen name with an "x" last name!)
5. When I kept seeing "BOT" after a book title, I worried that I would never know what it meant. Then it came to me: "Book On Tape." (My father loved listening to books as much as reading them.)
Kahlil Gibran, who is the poet Papa introduced to me when I was a teen, and whose work Papa read aloud at my wedding.
7. A "want" list is every bit as important as the "I've got" list. I am filled with tenderness when I see the pages of titles Papa hadn't yet acquired. Most of them were books he'd listened to on tape, loved, and then wanted to own a print copy. (I do this, too! Listen to a book, love it, NEED to own it.) It reminds me that the fun of being a collector is often in the hunt, in the building of the collection -- not just in the "having" it.
The biggest thing I am learning is that death does not mark the end of a relationship -- we still have relationships that change and grow with people who are dead. Papa is with me in the pages of this Inventory, and in my daily life. Just like a good book, "The End" of life is just another beginning. xo