Hello, again. It’s always good to be back here. I like to blog, but for me the hard part is coming up with new ideas. I know that seems a little strange for someone who spends her days writing, but for me, fiction is much easier to write than real life. This month though, the topic has been tapping on my shoulder. So forgive me for being a little too sentimental, but sometimes that is real life.
Mother’s Day is coming up, and for me it’s a melancholy time, remembering my mother and grandmothers, all who left me too soon, and thinking about my own place in the world as a mother. I’m not sure I’ve ever lived up to the three great ladies who made me who I am today. They were tough role models – a nurse, a suffragette, a concert pianist. All women who achieved things in their time that women weren’t supposed to be achieving.
Maybe one of the sad things in my life is that my mother never knew me as a writer. She was responsible for that, actually -because she died so young, and without doing all the things in life she’d set out to do. It was my wake-up call, the defining moment in a person’s life when things are made clear. Either do it or don’t. Because she hadn’t, I knew I had to. With all my college background, various degrees, different career directions, the only constant was that I wanted to write. Without doing that, my life would have ended like my mother’s, with so many things left unfulfilled.
The thing is, my mother guided me in the choice to write from the time I was born, and she didn’t even know it. I’m not sure I knew it either until long after she was gone and I was writing my 20th or 30th book. That’s when it dawned on my that everything I am today I owe to my mother, as cliche as that may sound. Why? Because she read to me before I was able to read. And she bought me books. When other children were getting toys and games, I received books. To a child, that’s not so fun. Except, because I didn’t get so many toys to play with what else could I do? I read.
I remember one summer, I think I was probably eight or nine, I dedicated myself to reading every volume of Nancy Drew ever written. It became a plan between my mother and me. She rounded up the books for me, and I read them as fast as I could. I seem to recall her bringing me glasses of lemonade throughout the day, and making me my favorite peanut butter and mustard sandwiches (yes, I love mustard on my peanut butter). But I ran out of Nancy Drew half way through summer vacation, so she introduced me to authors such as Gene Stratton-Porter, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Daphne du Maurier, Louisa May Alcott. My favorite book that summer was a Newbery winner titled The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare. As it turns out, it’s still my favorite book today, with any and all of the Nancy Drew books coming in close behind. And not far behind that, A Girl of the Limberlost, Anne of Green Gables, Rebecca and Little Women.
It was an amazing summer and, not surprisingly, the one that stands out in my mind over every other summer vacation. I read every single day, couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and get to the next book. Ironically enough, years later my mother caught me reading one of “those” books, and had a fit because I was much too young to be reading stories like that. Maybe I was, but because she forbade those saucy Mills & Boon romances all my friends were sneaking home, that made me want to read them all the more. She would have gotten a kick knowing I ended up writing “those” books for Mills & Boon years later. I think somewhere, somehow, she knows. Maybe she’s even having a fit. I prefer to think of her as taking pride in the legacy she created.
I have a plan for this coming Mother’s Day, but it’s not with my own kids. This year, it’s with me. I’ve dug out several of my old Nancy Drew books, as it turns out a number are first editions given to my mother by her mother, and I’m going to spend the day reading them, drinking lemonade and eating peanut butter and mustard sandwiches. And thanking my mother for the greatest gift I’ve ever received, other than my actual existence. It would be a lonely life without my books. But I’m never lonely because my mother knew, from the day I was born, how books would shape my life. And you know what? Every time I open one, and turn the pages, whether paper or electronic, my mother is there with me, maybe smiling even when it’s one of “those” books.
Happy Mother’s Day!
As always, wishing you health & happiness (and one-time only, a peanut butter and mustard sandwich!)