Old Records

What 96-year old woman has 153 long playing records in her 2-room assisted living apartment? Answer. My mother.

I’m in the process of typing up the inventory that my daughter, Kara, did of my mother’s THINGS. Two weeks ago, Kara and I took my Victor Reader Stream over to Mom’s, and Kara said out loud everything she saw, including the contents of both closets, all the dresser drawers, the pictures on the walls, the knick knacks on the shelves, and the books and records. It took about 5 hours altogether, and now I’m well into my 5th hour of typing. Each time I visit Mom, I present her with another couple of pages of possessions for her to peruse. How gratifying it would be if this list would help her see that she has way too many unnecessary and useless things that are cluttering up her space and getting in the way of her ability to find the things she actually needs. What happens is that she doesnt have the energy or mental powers to sort through the clutter, so she just sends me to the store to buy new items. Thats how she winds up with 4 shoe horns, 3 pairs of scissors, 5 flash lights, about 37 pairs of knee high hose, countless Ace bandages, about 500 envelopes, and well, you get the idea.

One of the saddest outcomes of this inventory process is the realization that my mother actually enjoys having so many THINGS.

As Kara was reading off the record labels, Mom pointed out that anyone looking at her collection would notice that she has quite an eclectic taste in music. It doesn’t occur to her, though, that she cant play any of those records, because there wasn’t enough room in her crowded living room to set up her stereo system. The only one this seems to bother is me. I had the unrealistic vision of playing the records together as an activity when I’d come over to visit. She has an extensive collection of CDs as well, and I do play them for her once in a while, on a small CD player that my son Steve bought for her. But there’s something about taking the record out of its jacket, carefully placing it on the turn table, and pushing the little gismo that makes the needle come down in exactly the right spot. Hey, I’m even old enough to remember when you had to put the needle down on the record by hand. No, I’m not old enough to remember the wind-up Victrola. The point is, it was much more of an activity to listen to records than it is to put on a CD. For one thing, there were only one or two songs on each side, and there’s always the visual appeal of watching the record spin around and the needle arm travel across the surface. Aside from my nostalgic disappointment in not being able to help my mother enjoy her music for the sake of the music, it irks me that it doesnt seem to bother her that all she can do with that music is look at the list I typed up for her today and be proud that she has quite a collection.

Someday, I’ll have to dispose of those records, and I’m told that Ill be lucky if I can get 23 cents for the entire bunch. In the meantime, I’m on a mission to find a small record player, so it will make sense to have all those records taking up space in her living room.


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