By Kristeen A. Bruun
When I was in junior high, I began reading a series set in Denver whose heroine was Beany Malone. Lenora Mattingly Weber’s first book was published in 1947 and her last in the 1970s, so she wrote for about 25 years. (Her books are still in print.)
Eventually, after Beany married the boy next door 13 books later, Weber began to write about Katie Rose and Stacy Belford. I devoured them all, scouring the libraries as I moved from one part of the country to another. At the time, I had not yet realized that it was possible to own a book because I loved it. Books were luxuries not included in our family budget.
It wasn’t until I went to college that I discovered the joys of the used bookstore. For years, I never walked into a used bookstore without checking out the Weber section in fiction. Eventually, I owned 11 of the 13 “Beany Malone” books, including the cookbook, and a few of the Belford series. And today we have the internet, so I suppose I could actually now complete my collection without getting up from my desk.
Except that now there’s a problem. It’s time for me to stop collecting.
My granddaughter Emma came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. She’s twelve, just exactly the age I was when I started reading the Beany Malone series, so I told her to take a look at the first book. “If you like them,” I said, “I’ll ship them to you. But it’s OK if you don’t like them. I’m sure I can find someone else to give them to.” Emma had not read very far when she looked up and said, “Grandma, these are about Denver!” That’s where Emma lives. So the deal was sealed. Now all I have to do is ship the books.
But honestly, now that I have made the decision to give the books away, I am having a hard time letting go. Sometimes, when I try to cull something, I ask myself if I will be able to take it to my nursing home. I know there’s no room for Beany there. Still, I have not only hauled these books all around the country, but I have re-read them again and again. I feel like I belong to the Malone family, and they remind me of important life lessons. These are what I call “values books.” Without teaching or preaching, they impart solid character traits through the struggles of the characters. Emma needs these, just as I did.
We spend our entire lives learning to let go of them. Lessons can come at any time. I remember when a new mom in our congregation had to take her baby back to the hospital with a virus and he spent a week in the NICU. She came back from that experience and explained what she had learned, “He’s not mine. I learned that this week. He belongs to Someone Else.” I was so impressed with her wisdom.
Today I was reading Psalm 90, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations…” (Psalm 90:1). I think of the people moving their desert tents from place to place after leaving Egypt, of those who returned from exile to rebuild Jerusalem, of those who followed Jesus the Messiah, and of all the others who brought the faith through the centuries to me. They all had to let go of something they had cherished in order to take the next step.
So one by one, I’m reading my Beany Malone books for the last time, and putting them in a box for Emma.