Of all the critiques and reviews of my literary work, I cherish my mother’s the most. A 1950s stay-at-home mom, she sacrificed most of her dreams to care for her home and family. She, Esther, attended to my budding talent as a writer, and I’ll always appreciate her interest and input.
Esther was a young, “twentyish” mom as most women were at that time. Dark brown coppery hair framed her lovely face, and sapphire eyes emoted love and joy. Her svelte figure swiveled beneath her housedresses, which she wore with pride even while doing housework.
Not only was she beautiful, she was intelligent, too. High school graduation, a goal in her lifetime, was accomplished. This was a major feat at the time. She was academically talented, but her burning desire was to become a wife and a mother. Coming from a broken, dysfunctional family, she wanted security and an opportunity to be the homemaker her mother never was.
After high school she was hired at S. S. Kresge, the parent company of the Kmart organization. She was secretary to Stanley Kresge, and she didn’t even realize the powerhouse that the growing company would become. As a hard worker, she was a great asset to the company.
It was love at first sight when my dad and mom met. They courted, married, and presented me to the world three years later.
Esther noticed my keen interest in literature when I, as a precocious toddler, would drag all my books to have her read. “Donald Duck was mad! Donald Duck was furious!” she’d repeat over and over again. After all, I copied Mommy, who read voraciously all afternoon.
When I entered school, I learned to read quickly so that I could read my own books. Thereafter, we students began writing, and soon our thoughts would emerge onto paper. Mom would scour my work with intensive eyes. She was keenly interested in everything I wrote, and she was my harshest critic. Words would be scratched, adjectives would be added, and spelling and punctuation would be corrected. She offered advice, which I heeded earnestly. As I went through elementary and high school, she enjoyed reading and critiquing all of my stories, themes, and term papers. When college came, she bowed out of the critiquing mode because the work and writing became too intense for her skills. At that point I turned to friends and teachers for their writing wisdom.
One day we were drinking coffee and talking. She confided that she had a burning sensation in her abdomen. It nagged her all the time. I told her to see a medical doctor hoping that it was an ulcer, nothing more serious. She nodded in agreement and dashed to phone the doctor.
Test after test revealed nothing. Tests were primitive at that time. Mom was in excruciating pain that burned like a volcano. Pounds melted from her once beautiful figure, and her vivacious laugh and inviting smile faded away.
Within eight months of her dire confession to me, she was dead. All the love that only a mother can give was gone. I cried a river; I couldn’t eat; and my heart bled. I lost my mother and my best friend. I lost my favorite critic. Although I was totally broken with grief, I had a certain peace. I knew that my precious mother was in heaven with the Lord.
About a month later I was emptying her closets and cleaning her drawers clinging to the poignant memories they held. In my rumbling, I almost threw away a yellow folder. It looked important and interesting; something I had never seen before. I opened the folder and found a receipt for a writer’s correspondence course. It was signed by Esther and indicated her interest in learning to write poems, stories, and articles. Underneath I discovered poems, many of them about me.
My heart sank, and my eyes grew damp. Mom’s secret dream was to become a writer. I knew she loved writing letters and poems, but of all the dreams we shared, she never revealed her grandest dream.
I had to put the folder down. My hands started shaking, and those old tears started to flow. My mother’s memory flooded my heart. Esther left a legacy of dreams – dreams she couldn’t attain on this planet. But, I can see her now. She’s a scribe joyously writing for the Lord in heaven.
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