I struggle with understanding what formed this woman who is my co-author and my mother. She comes from a different generation and a different background than the one she created for her family. Mom grew up in a home broken by divorce in an era when divorce was not common, then took care of a bulimic mother at a time when eating disorders were undefined and untreated. She met my dad in the 1940s when the term “the weaker sex” was accepted. But mom saw the fallacy in that view and has always been a partner rather than a complement.
My mom gets through major challenges by rolling up her sleeves, finding the best way to handle what’s before her, then looking around for silver linings.
No one ever mentored my mother and told her how unique and special she was. They didn’t need to, because deep down, I believe she has always known it. She knows she possesses something that people envy. Something that people do not understand, but always admire. She is creative.
She knows what makes up those wonderful moments in life when we are awed. It may be a painting, a craft, a well-framed photo or a perfectly timed video shot, a pairing of adjectives and adverbs, a beautifully felt musical note. Mom knows how important getting beyond routine can be, and she pursues it―sometimes finding those creative avenues herself; always encouraging her children and friends.
And my mom has something else I see more clearly these days, as she faces the autumn of her life and the heartache of an ailing husband. She has bravery. She is resolved to conquer what God lays before her to the best of her abilities. She may not always smile as she faces down the woes and her foes. But she does not turn her back and head in the other direction. I have many friends whose aging parents fight against how hard life becomes in old age by ignoring the realities. She has taken the burden of her age (and my father’s age) on her own shoulders and found the best way to deal with each challenge. And yet, she knows when to accept the help that her children so badly need to give her.
Finally, my mom has my dad. He is the bane of her daily life sometimes (and especially these days as he suffers from Alzheimer’s), but she has always known what a good man he is and how much he admires the way she’s handled her kids. Like my own husband, my dad has let Mom know that she’s a good mom, but also special and talented.
I went through a period in my life when I had the privilege of working closely with my father. Those years are precious to me because I came to understand why he garners respect and admiration. Meanwhile, my sisters have always had more in common with mom: good at arts and crafts; great at home decoration; a sense of design my poor eye never had.
Then writing novels happened. I never could have imagined that my greatest passion in life would be shared with my own mother (much less a little sister who used to hate to read!). The meals Mom and I have shared as we fine-tuned her plots; the people we’ve met as we’ve talked to various groups; the excitement of being interviewed and appearing on television; and the absolute thrill of seeing our books in print. I don’t know how I got so lucky to be able to really get to know that side of the woman who gave me life. It’s my silver lining.