The 33-Year-Old Bookmark

Growing up I always spent a week in the summer at my Nana’s in Philadelphia and in 1976 I stayed a few extra weeks to join in the city’s celebration of our nation’s bicentennial. One of the many places we visited was the Franklin Institute, a science museum named after Benjamin Franklin.

In the gift shop, I bought my mom a bookmark. It was simple and probably cost a quarter back then. This summer, 33 years later, I found the bookmark in some papers she kept in a locked box until her death. Although I had not thought about it in years, I instantly knew what if was, impaired vision and all. Avid readers that mom and I have always been, there were a lot of bookmarks in our lives. But for some reason, she kept this one safe and secure for almost three decades.

I began to use it and one day after giving my husband a library book to return I realized I had left the bookmark in it. He still had the book when I called him so I asked him to get the bookmark before he returned it. That evening he looked in his briefcase and couldn’t find it. He swore he put it in his bag but it wasn’t there. He searched the car, called the library and a few other places he had been that day. He felt terrible. I told him it was fine but inside I was really bummed.

After a week or so had passed, it became a joke between us. He would tell me I should stop Type-A’ing and sit down and read. I would reply, “I can’t. I don’t have a bookmark.” A few months later he took everything out of his briefcase for a good clean out. And found the bookmark.

It now resides between page 126 and 127 in the latest book by one of our favorite authors. Every time I get a new novel from one of the writers mom read too, I feel a little twinge for all the books she has missed since she died. We enjoyed many of the same storytellers and now we share the same keepsake.When I tuck it in a book, I like to think she’s reading it with me. This old, thin piece of plastic holds more than my page. Not bad for $.25.



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