My mother died five years ago. She was a pack rat. I have pack rat tendencies. One of the things of hers I’ve saved is her address book, a black six-ring pseudo-leather “Made in China Rolodex” notebook.
Why have I kept it? I don’t know most of the people in it, other than family members, but certain items bring up memories. An envelope postmarked May 27, 1997 (a month after her sister died), from Lois Toby, the postmistress of the Vermont village where my aunt had lived. Several pages from my mother’s passport of her visas to China and Hong Kong (Apil 10, 1975; October 4, October 17, October 25, 1978). A page listing all the organizations she donated to in 2008; as they continued to solicit her in 2010 and 2011, I informed them all that she had died, using the collection of stamps she had amassed in her zeal for commemoratives – there was about $75 worth of them.
One woman I never heard of, Vivien Horowitz, has the note: Plays Canasta. I learn that my mother had phone numbers for Florida Atlantic University’s Holocaust & Judaic Studies, the School of Arts/Museum, and Friends of Yiddish (which may no longer exist, as a search of FAU’s Web site today turns up links no more recent than 2007).
Few of my mother’s interests are mine, but I miss her talking about them or telling me the latest U.S.-China People’s Friendship Association news or controversy, or about learning to play mah-jongg in her 80s. I want to tell her about the video of Leonard Nimoy talking about growing up speaking Yiddish. I want to keep our conversation going, and I’m sad that her end of it no longer exists. Only her address book is still here.