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Where Did the Time Go?

Posted: January 17, 2013

This is a letter that Maxine Bookless wrote for the Golda Meir House tenant newsletter.

I think of each of you reading this as I put my thoughts down on paper. My recent experience reaches to our common humanity. Both my parents have passed away, and I have moved up a generation. My cousins and I go to the cemetery and clean the headstones now.  We are the ones who touch each gravesite and leave a stone.  Now it is up to my sister and me to clean out the house that was my parents’ home for over 50 years.

At first the task seemed daunting, and then it began to have  its own rhythm.  We work in spurts:  start, then stop, start again, stop again. We find a box of love letters from my Dad to my Mom.  Our great-grandmother’s silver candlesticks. Our Mom’s high school yearbook.  A beautiful picture of our parents when they were dating; they are so young and so in love.   My grandparents’ Katuba.  It’s the stopping that takes its toll when we cannot bear to get rid of the small, useless things.  I find a little plastic container with one hair roller, bobby-pins and hair clips.  Every night my Mom would roll her bangs around that roller and clip them in, put on a hair net, and go to bed. It touches my heart. I cannot throw it way.

The next day we begin again, and then stop because we find our Mother’s date book.  In it, in her careful handwriting, is everyone’s birthday, anniversaries, wedding dates, graduation dates, the date Uncle Irving and Aunt Rose moved to a condo in Boca Raton, the date Uncle Nathan left his house to go to a nursing home, the date cousin Bradley died at 11 years old. The memories sweep over us as basic life events are played back.  We suddenly recall wet kisses on cheeks, grandma’s home- made strudel, holiday dinners, my first camera from my long deceased Uncle Ben. Most of the people are dead now, and these memories belong to those of us who take the time to remember. It all comes alive as we look through this simple, worn date book that spent years in a junk drawer.

Back to the task at hand until the house is all cleaned out, the contents packed and sold, the treasures stored in our homes, and the house is eventually sold to someone who will create his/her own memories.


Posted January 18, 2013

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Comment by Robin Nasson | 01/18/2013

Max, this is beautiful. You should write a book of short stories!