The Library

            My grandmother’s house had a library.  The library doubled as her bedroom but only after my grandfather died.  It was then that she began to sleep in a big double bed in the library, leaving intact their upstairs bedroom with the four poster bed with the white chenille bedspread, the cherry wood dressing table and mirror, four-drawer dresser, and the two windows overlooking the school forest across the street. 

            Downstairs in the library, my grandmother’s bed looked out of place even though I had never known her to sleep anywhere else in the house.  The dark wood paneling, the row of leaded glass windows atop the glass-doored bookshelves, and the hundreds of books made it a library with a bed rather than a bedroom with a lot of books.  The richness of having a room just for books made me wonder as a child why anyone would besmirch such a space with a bed. 

            There was no closet in the library.  My grandmother’s clothes stayed in the upstairs bedroom even though she didn’t.  Every day she made several trips up and down the stairs to get dressed and undressed, change for company, find a hat to match her outfit, or fetch her white gloves.  The stairs she traveled were oak, dark to begin with, made darker by decades of up and down. Some of the stairs had slight, smooth indentations where thousands of footfalls had created a path.  Going up, the path was a comfort, coming down, it made rushing risky as the old stairs sloped down and were as smooth and slick as ice on a hill.

            The wood paneling and the small, high windows of my grandmother’s library bedroom made the room very dark and cool whatever the season.  Any visit to her house included a tour of the library, an inspection of the framed photos of my grandparents on their wedding day, my Uncle Winston in his World War II army uniform, my Uncle Don in his General Motors up and comer gray suit, my mother and her little sister as young women, standing in the front yard of the house, arms linked, my mother librarian-looking and my aunt robust and grinning. 

[Written in 2003 for a writing class]


Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

2 Comments on “The Library

  1. I’d like to have known your grandmother. How delicious to sleep surrounded by books. Was she an avid reader?

    • You know – I remember her reading the paper and magazines. Books, not so much. But who knows? Maybe she read in bed!

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