We're celebrating the release of THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND by our crew member, Kathryn Holmes, with a love letter blog hop! To join us, write a love letter to someone (or something) who has helped shape you as a writer, or who has been an important part of your writing life. Your love letter does not have to be in a traditional letter format - playlists, drawings or illustrations, poems, book round-ups are welcome. Feel free to get creative! If you choose to participate, share your link here and you'll be entered to win a Prize Pack - which includes a copy of Kathryn's book!
My love letter is to my mother. Writer, teacher, gardener, brutal editor, loser of glasses, finder of glasses on top of her head.
My mother is the one who first introduced me to books. As a writer and teacher her love of ink on a page was absolute and enduring. She understood the power and magic of stories. She cultivated our imaginations with the same care she gave her flower garden.
After the day was done, she would stay up late and read to us of Narnia, Neverland, the tales of Rikki- Tikki-Tavi and Fairytales galore. She would do sound effects and voices. We would beg to stay up past our bed time, to find out what happened next.
I have no idea how she did it. She raised five children, taught college English classes, wrote long hours every day and did it all on a typewriter (without the advantage of cut and paste, but with honest to god white-out!), baked everything from scratch and kept everyone clothed and fed and washed and made sure they ate something besides pickles. I really don’t know how she did it. I don’t know how she didn’t collapse at the end of every day from sheer exhaustion. It wasn’t until I grew older that I realized how much she did in a single day. And because I did not understand what a monumental thing it is just to keep five kids shod in sneakers that fit, I did not feel the immense gratitude that I feel today.
My mother grew up during the Great Depression. And they, like everyone they knew, were very, very poor. Her father wasn’t able to pay the doctor for her birth until she was in college. And she was the first girl to go to college in her family. When she was little, they were only able to afford one present each year for every child. My mother chose a box of crayons, and then accidently left them in the sun and they melted. And they couldn’t just buy her another box. The money was just too dear. My heart breaks for her every time I hear that story.
I never lacked for crayons as a child. I never lacked for books either. My childhood was surrounded by stacks and stacks of books. My mother made sure we never missed out on anything growing up. And if we couldn’t buy it, she would make it. She invented holidays that didn’t exist, she threw us birthday parties that were magical and the envy of the neighborhood. Not because they had ponies or bouncy castles, but because she would come up with wild ideas that were borderline crazy, immensely messy and exquisitely wonderful.
Before we could even write, she kept a journal for us every day. We would dictate it to her and she would write it down verbatim. When we could hold a crayon, or later a pencil, we wrote our own stories and she kept them all, carefully labeled in manila folders in a giant filing cabinet in the basement. (Quite a few of mine have red pen corrections in the margins in my mother’s handwriting. A testament to the fact that I have always had issues with spelling and grammar.) But more than anything, my mother taught us to love words. To never lose the magic that those first stories made us feel.
Some day, I would like to write some words beautiful enough for my mother. But that may never happen. So instead, I better get busy on building that time machine, so that I can go back in time and buy her the biggest box of crayons the world has ever seen. (with a built-in sharpener)
Until then, all I can say is I love you Mom and I am so immensely grateful.