We jokingly referred to Gran as a living antique. She was old, and everything in her house reflected her age.
It was her books she treasured the most. She had vast bookshelves of volumes she had collected over the years and was loath to get rid of.
She’d tell us each book contained a world of its own and she liked the variety of places she could go when she opened each one.
She did have favourites because I asked her once if she did as I found it hard to believe she liked them all equally. The Shakespeare’s, the F Scott Fitzgerald’s and her most favourite Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.
She said that when she was first read Mockingbird, she fell in love with Atticus Finch. He was a single man, two kids, but that didn’t matter, he was a magnificent man standing up for justice in a world where justice was always slanted in a certain direction.
When I looked, I saw she had two copies, each one signed by Harper Lee herself. Gran said she’d got the copies signed back in sixty-five when she was on a visit to Harper Lee’s hometown. They met accidentally in a café and got to talking, and Gran had bought two copies of her novel, one to give her mother when she returned home but with them, both signed she decided to keep them both.
Gran liked to sit in her front room and tell you stories about the things she had in her house. Every thing had a story. She knew where it had come from and what it meant to her.
But it was her books she valued the most, and when I stayed there, it was not unusual to find Gran in the mornings sitting in the front room reading. She liked to read first thing in the morning after her breakfast, she said it was the time when her mind was at its most agile and able to take in what she was reading.
When she died, there was a bit of a to do about what to do with her stuff. Mum’s older sister wanted to throw it all out as she saw everything as old and way past its use by date.
Mum and I packed up her books and took them home, we didn’t wait for any decision we acted as we knew Gran would want one of us to save her precious books, no matter how old they might be.