I was going to write about something entirely different for this month’s blog but when I typed the first line on Sunday morning, out came, Thanks, Mom.
Yesterday, of course, was Mother’s Day. At this point in my and my family’s life, I am the mother who is celebrated with gorgeous flowers, chocolate (two of my great pleasures) and, if I feel like it, an extracted promise to do some odious chore.
My mom died in 2006, so she isn’t here to be included in gift giving. Or phone calls, although we affectionately and impulsively tucked her favorite, well-used red princess phone into her casket. She was a wonderful mom for many reasons. Given I.N.K.'s focus, I'd like to celebrate how she helped me become a writer just by being who she was.
We always had books in the house. We were always read to.
I had a lot of nightmares when I was a kid. So I slept with my door open and the hall light on, which threw a swatch of light into my bedroom that was perfect for sneak reading. Let’s just say, I took advantage of it. I think my mom knew. She never said a word, doubtlessly realizing that forbidden fruit is always more delicious.
Once I had a pajama party, maybe in fourth grade, and late into the night when we went into the kitchen for snacks, we found it had been invaded by a stream of ants. Our squeals brought Mom downstairs. I frankly can’t remember if she dealt with the ants first—or, not at all. All I can see is the picture of my mom standing in the kitchen in her nightgown, reading The World Book entry about ants to a bunch of girls waiting for their Swanson’s chicken pot pies to come out of the oven. She always liked to look up things.
When she could afford it, she bought us/her an Encyclopedia Britannica.
A year or two later, I was enthralled by reading Gone with the Wind. I got in trouble when my teacher found that I was using my textbook as a shield to camouflage my open copy. When Mom found out, she laughed. But her favorite GWTW story was when I burst into my parents’ bedroom a few nights later, waking her up with the tearful accusation, “You didn’t tell me it was going to end like that.”
Fast forward--about two years after I got a master’s degree in psychology that my parents paid for, tried it out and realized the job wasn’t for me, I decided to become a writer. Somewhat arbitrarily. Then it was what Mom didn’t say that was important. She didn’t say, you have never shown much interest in writing before or how will you make money or is this practical.
And when my first article came out in the Sunday edition of the Boston Herald American, she called the paper to get a dozen copies sent to her in Detroit. She wanted originals, not xeroxes. When my first book came out, she just might have put me in the royalty plus column all by herself.