“Are you sure you won’t ever need them?” sadness creeping into my voice like a forlorn shadow.
I was in the midst of downsizing, trying to save our grown children from someday sorting through at least half a century of our belongings.
Among other things, I was getting rid of encyclopedias and books that had no place in today’s electronic age. Our school-age grandchildren, able to get all they needed from the Internet for school projects or assignments, considered our old-fashioned methods beneath them.
My picture file cabinet sat in the corner of the den, its surface a catch-all for phone books, scrap pads, and pens at various stages of ink-fulness. The squeaking drawers rubbed as I fingered through the massive file folders meticulously labeled and organized by category. The hours I had spent clipping magazine pictures for Sunday School children’s bulletin boards and crafts had metamorphosed into fulfilling our own children’s school projects and assignments. ‘Children . . . Babies . . . Family . . . Birds . . . Animals . . . Buildings/Bridges/Wells . . . Food . . . Seasons . . . Scenery . . . Holidays . . . Occupations,’ etc. with multiple subtitles. In later years, not able to bear throwing away old “Country” magazine issues, I had gutted them first, adding more precious pictures to these already bulging folders.
“They’re neat, Grams, but I just 'google' what I need,” their deluxe printers’ colorful options making a mockery of my selections.
I tried not to reminisce about how our children and grandchildren had made collages together with me, gluing gay scenes to construction paper and using our imaginations to create our own stories from them. I brushed away a cobweb on the back of the cabinet absently, even as I closed the curtain on my memories.
Next, the set of outdated encyclopedias went into the donation pile, followed by stacks of expired magazines and catalogs. However, I could not bring myself to get rid of my “baker’s dozen” 6-ft. shelves full of books—novels and biographies and classics that I had enjoyed reading and re-reading throughout the years.
“Grams, you should get a Kindle, and be done with it,” my teenage granddaughter, Lisa, insisted, “you can scroll across the tablet with the touch of your finger and it’s so much lighter than these actual books.”
I drew a line in the sand at that, raising my eyebrows in mock horror, “I LIKE the weight of a REAL book in my hands and the feel and sound of the crisp pages turning, thank you very much. And, what about Great-Aunt Mable’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” over there? And the book my teacher gave me as an award when I graduated from high school? Try and put one of those into your electronic gadget and smoke it!” knowing I was over reacting but not caring very much.
I stalked purposefully back over to the picture files, then back to the stacks for give-away, pacing between them like a mad hatter. Finally, I came to an executive decision. I would box them all up and put them in the attic and decide later what to do with them.
One week later, our phone was ringing off the hook and our house was like Grand Central Station.
“Grammie, do you still have your picture file? Our computer is down and my English Lit visual project is due tomorrow.”
“Hey, Grams. Uh, lightning struck our tree in last night’s storm and a power surge killed our Internet service so we can’t google. I need some information on the Sioux Indians. You still have your old encyclopedias, don’t you?”
“Grandma? I’m in a real mess. Our phone company’s wires got zapped or something last night, and we don’t have service, so I can’t google on the Internet. Can I come over? I have a book report to finish on “Huckleberry Finn”—you still have that book, right?”
While I was still lugging boxes down from the attic, daughter Lacy called.
“Mom, Gracie is driving me crazy. She can’t get service on her cell phone APS and is bored out of her mind. Then, she remembered about when you guys used to do picture crafts. Would you mind . . .”
As they all departed later in the evening, I gave them an assignment.
“I want you to google ‘upsizing’ at school tomorrow and tell me what you come up with,” deciding I should have the last laugh.
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