The Gifts Mom Left Behind
Mom loved reading and each evening she’d nestle in her cozy chair with a thick book. A large stack awaited her on a nearby table. I’d often curl up with her and she’d read story after story—my head on her chest, listening as her voice changed for each character in the tale.
She’d sometimes choose books that would challenge me, showing me a world that I hadn’t yet seen—stories that didn’t always have happy endings.
Mom was the first person to tell me that life wasn’t fair. I remember storming off in a huff, thinking she just didn’t understand. Unfairness seemed so wrong. In my seven-year-old mind, someone older should just make things fair. She said that while life isn’t always fair, we could find ways to help deal with the unfairness.
Books always seemed to give Mom the answers to her questions. We had books in every room. Whenever I questioned something, I already knew Mom expected me to go look for the answer first—in a book. This was long before computers, the Internet or Google.
Mom kept giving me more challenging books to read, reflecting a harder world she was preparing me to move into. The unfairness she’d warned me about was real, but it just meant I had to look for ways to make it less so. As life brought new adventures and challenges, I’d find a book in the mail offering help within the pages. Mom shared her life through books.
But during her final year of life, we went from books to phone calls. Life’s unfairness had come full circle—with a cancer that no book could cure. I tried to memorize the sound of her voice and the words that I would recall after she was gone. She died long before her beloved books did.
To many, books have become non-essential. Why bother to pick up a book when you can read online? I’ll tell you why. Every time I pull a book from the shelf, turn its thick pages, and breathe in that familiar papery smell, I think of you, Mom and the gifts of books you left behind.
Happy Mother’s Day—what’s your favorite memory of Mom?