Saturday, May 13, 2006

Bea’s Project

Another grey day, perfect for sorting books. I take many off the shelf in Bea's room, along with a quantity of dust. She is awake, but just barely. Still my presence seems to make her happy. Energized, I then remove from my own crowded library shelves all the books related to Bea’s project. I have been meaning to box them for months. Margaret Drabble, Virginia Woolf, Rosamond Lehmann. Here’s one with an amusing title: “Women Who Run With The Wolves.”

After having helped my dad with his book projects, Bea undertook one of her own in the early eighties. The notes fill two cardboard boxes. Not knowing what to do with the research and loath to throw it out, I placed the following ad in the Vassar Quarterly, along with one for our bed & breakfast:

Book Project? Beatrice C. Grabbe, 1932, researched the emergence of sexual desire in novels written by women, starting with the Brontés. Now 96, she is unable to finish the project. Anyone interested in her research, please contact her daughter at

I just received the following email: “I noticed the Wellfleet heading in the recent Alumnae/i magazine, and immediately thought about your mother. We lived across the street in DC - 44th St. - until their move to the Cape. I am a '56 grad. Be sure to give your Mother my very best wishes. I do hope someone has picked up on her project.” Janette Wood, now Pfeiff.

Unfortunately, no one has.

Bea always acted as if she would live forever. Starting a book in her eighties did not seem foolhardy. I guess she could not imagine her mind ever failing her.

What a shame Bea never finished the project!


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