Today my friend Dulcie is guest posting for me. Although we have yet to meet “in real life” she’s been a true friend – always there for me with a funny or touching email, a great book suggestion, or detailed instructions on how to send a kid to college without losing your mind. Thank you, Dulcie!
When my mom was alive, it was always difficult to find the right Mother’s Day gift for her. She didn’t need or want any more THINGS, and her eyesight was failing so photos were no longer an easy way out.
One year I wrote a story for her, and another year a poem. No, except for the extra-large fonts I used, these weren’t original ideas. For years, my parents wrote stories or poems for my siblings and me for our birthdays. Most of the poetry was forgettable, but the stories were usually pieces of their own life histories.
I think the best Mother’s Day gift I gave my mom was when I typed up into a Word document all the bits, pieces and chapters of her life story that she had carefully saved in a used 9 x 12 envelope. Yes, every time she wrote a story for us, she had typed it with carbon paper underneath and had saved the carbon copy. The typing was a gift she requested and that I was happy to do, and I wish I’d talked with her more about the treasured memories.
My friend Doug Armstrong, a former movie critic and business writer at our Milwaukee newspaper, took this type of gift much further. Over the period of about four years, he exchanged emails with his aging mother about her childhood memories. Because she’d lost much of her hearing early in life, she had enthusiastically embraced email as a way to communicate, even past age 90.
Doug took those memories, combined characters, created an underlying plot and put himself into the head of his mother, Emma, at ages 6 through 10. The result is a remarkable novel, Even Sunflowers Cast Shadows, which he self-published and which recently won an award for Best Novel of 2010 by a Wisconsin writer. More important than the award, however, was his joy in seeing his mother hold the printed book in her hand.
The book made me laugh out loud in spots and be afraid to turn pages in other spots. If you’re curious, you can read the first chapter on the book’s website or find more information on its Facebook page. To me, Doug’s book is the perfect Mother’s Day inspiration. The only hard part about doing this is just that – actually doing it. A little planning and advance thought will make this a winner, no matter who the recipient is: your mother, mother-in-law, grandmothers, sisters, aunts or all of the above. Whether you write a fictionalized version of family lore, turn it into a children’s story with photo illustrations, or stick to the facts, this could be a Mother’s Day gift the whole family will treasure for years. If you’re the mom, suggest the idea to your kids.
Dulcie, who doesn’t blog, is the mother of two and lives in Wisconsin. Her favorite Mother’s Day gifts are gifts of time, like the year her daughter took her to an art museum for an afternoon of sketching. That day, Dulcie enjoyed pretending she was the kind of mom who had time to go to the art museum to sketch, and she kept one of the rather mundane sketches to remind her of that magical afternoon.