Today, October 25, is the sixteenth anniversary of my mother’s death. I was eleven when she lost her battle to lymphoma, and I am always amazed, truly amazed, when I look back and realize what a wonderful and lasting impact she had on my life in that brief time. She is still, every day, a part of my life.
When it came time for me to write the dedication of my first novel, there was never any question or deliberation about the subject. It would be my mom. Each summer, when I was still too young to read, she enrolled me in the library’s summer reading program in the “read-to-me” category. And she would read to me, every day. When I was older, and in school, she patiently helped me learn to read. I can’t imagine sitting with me on the couch and correcting me as I read “Amelia Bedelia’s Family Album” was an enthralling use of an afternoon. I kept having issues with “Mr.” and “Mrs.” and we read the book multiple times until I got things straightened out. I grew to love reading, and my mom was always willing to take me to the library and also to spend money on books for me when I’d bring home a book-order form from school.
I’m so grateful that my mother never tried to turn my sisters and me into people we weren’t. She let me play sports and try cheer-leading, because I wanted to. She and the other moms of my cheer-leading troupe even got together, in secret, and learned our dance routine so they could perform it for us as a group before we started to learn it, to get us excited. Then, she let me quit a year later when sports stopped being fun for me, because my teammates became too competitive and I wasn’t athletically skilled. She never tried to shape me into who she wanted me to be; she loved and accepted me for the person I was. I wish I had been old enough to fully understand what a blessing she was in my life before I lost her. I know she watches over me, though. And despite the fact that, last month, my first thought when I reached 4,200 downloads of my novel in a free promo was,”I wish I could tell Mom,” I believe she knew about it. And I’m glad, because without her constant support of me, I could never have become a writer.