For one son, it appeared in a secondhand bookstore on the first anniversary of his mother’s death.
Posted in , Feb 2, 2022
I had prayed for it to be just another day, but on the first anniversary of my mother’s death from Alzheimer’s, I awoke to a wet and windy Saturday in the Berkshire Hills, the kind of raw early April morning that makes spring seem like a broken promise. I’d wanted to hike a favorite trail in Beartown State Forest that was finally open after an exceptionally rude winter, but today’s weather had sabotaged my plans, and I found myself wandering aimlessly through one of the musty secondhand bookstores for which this part of western Massachusetts is known.
I needed another book like I needed a hole in my head, as Mom would have put it. I missed mom saying predictable things like that, missed them more than I ever imagined I would. I thought her long decline from a fatal disease that stole her mind—but not her soul—would have prepared me for her passing but sometimes, even a year later, my feelings about losing her were unexpectantly poignant, like today.
As my eyes roamed the jammed shelves, a title on a worn red spine leapt out at me: The Southpaw’s Secret.
A boy’s book, part of a short-lived Mel Martin mystery series by John R. Cooper that I’d been crazy about when I was a kid in Michigan. Mel Martin was the star of his high school baseball team, and a crafty sleuth to boot. The series had already gone out of print by the time I read the two volumes I inherited from my brother, but I was hooked. I can’t count the hours Mom spent helping me hunt down other Mel Martin books.
Mom was a great sleuth in her own right, especially when it came to finding things I couldn’t live without: the Beatles first album, an obscure version with an alternative cover photo, for instance, which totally sold out the Monday after their historic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Mom discovered a copy in a tiny electronics store in Walled Lake, a good 30 miles from our house. Mom spent half her life finding obscure stuff I had to have.
Except The Southpaw’s Secret, the one Mel Martin book she was never able to track down. And now it had found me. After all these years. On this day. And by the way, my mom was a lefty herself.
What signs of reassurance and comfort have you received from loved ones who have passed? I know many of you have. Please send your account to me here. I would be most appreciative.