The sum of all knowledge

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2022-09-23 06:00:10

Last week my mother died. After we put her urn into the ground next to my father’s we went back to their flat to talk about next steps and dividing up their belongings amongst us three children. One thing I immediately called dibs on were my father’s two books.

Both were printed in 1955 and he purchased them with his first wage as a 14 year old coal miner. One boastingly calls itself “I tell you everything” and the other is a world map and almanac. They represent my father’s desire to educate himself and to travel – something he shared deeply with my mother.

Over decades, these books stayed my father’s one source of truth for anything historical or related to maths, physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology and – to a sadder degree – grammar and politics.

But let’s remind ourselves of this amazing purchase. A 14 year old, spending 9 hours a day underground mining coal goes and buys these books to make up for the lack of education he encountered growing up in war-torn Germany.

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