EVERY MOTHER COUNTS Book Club Pick

Here is a note from Elizabeth Benedict: PageLines- what-my-mother-gave-me.jpg"I'm thrilled that Christy Turlington's fabulous organization EVERY MOTHER COUNTS chose WHAT MY MOTHER GAVE ME as its book club pick this week. Turlington writes about her favorite gift from her mother: 'While I am just grateful to still have my mother in my life, the gifts she gave me that mattered most were the ones she gave herself: Mothering my sisters and me, traveling the world and continuing her education. The fact that she was born in El Salvador provided me with an early connection to a larger world than the one I would have known otherwise...'  Shout out to Judith Hillman Paterson, Luanne Rice, Elinor Lipman, Caroline Leavitt, Karen Karbo, and all the other wonderful contributors to the anthology."

Liz edited and wrote for WHAT MY MOTHER GAVE ME.  My essay is Midnight Typing, about how my mother gave me the gift of...perhaps you'll read it.

I am touched by Christy Turlington's words about her favorite gifts from her mother, and about the important work she is doing. According to a story in The New York Times, the goal of her organization is to help "people understand that pregnancy and childbirth, even though it’s a joyous experience for so many women, really is a risky endeavor for millions of other women,” according to Erin Thornton, executive director, who happens to be expecting right now herself. “To this day, hundreds of thousands of women will die in pregnancy and childbirth, but 90 percent of those could be prevented just with basic, simple access to health care.”

 

Happy Mother's Day!

with mom at the old saybrook train stationI miss my mom.  I think of her every day.  There are so many things I want to talk to her about.  She had a unique sense of humor and I'll catch myself laughing at sights or phrases or stories that I know she'd so enjoy.  So much of what I love in life came from her: gardening, swimming in the ocean, cooking, poems, English literature, art.  I didn't inherit her talent for drawing and painting (although both my sisters did,) but I do have her love of art galleries and museums.  So often I'll see an exhibit and think of her, and wish she were there to see the artist's work with me. She loved the beach, and I'm sure that's one reason I'm happiest with bare feet, walking along the tide line.  We would spend summer days building sandcastles, finding shells and sea glass, swimming to the raft, crabbing at the end of the beach.  Often she would sketch while my sisters and I played and swam; frequently we'd all be reading, covered with sunscreen, lost in our books.

When I grew up and moved to New York City, I'd take Amtrak to Old Saybrook CT nearly every weekend.  My mother would meet the train, no matter what time it was; Sundays came too soon, and I'd never want to leave.  The photo above (taken in 1988 or so) shows us at the train station, waiting for the train back to NY.  I read her expression and know she wasn't ready for me to leave.  The picture brings back that moment and many emotions.

She died way too young, after a long illness.  After her death I was filled with memories of nurses and hospitals and the great sadness of losing her slowly.  But time has passed, and you know what?  I rarely think of her illness anymore.  The gift of time has been that I remember my mother being young and healthy, painting nearly every day, writing every night.  I remember watching Julia Child on Saturday afternoons, then cooking dinner together--sitting around the table at Hubbard's Point, enjoying the meal with my sister and her family, laughing and talking and feeling that it would last forever, that our family would go on forever.

I wrote about her in an essay called "Midnight Typing."  It appears in the collection What My Mother Gave Me, edited by Elizabeth Benedict.  Please comment below for the chance to win a copy of the book as well as a canvas tote bag printed with the cover of The Lemon Orchard.  I'd love to know about your mother, hear your stories and memories.

[UPDATE 5/12: Congratulations to Leela FitzGerald, our Mother's Day winner!]