One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Landscape that is my Mother

This post is in honor of To Mama with Love, part of a collaborative online art project that honors moms across the globe and raises funds to invest in remarkable women who create hope in our world. Thanks to Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, who introduced it to me, and to Audrey Vernick who inspired me to take part.

My mother is a force of nature. Seriously. She wakes up at 5AM (or maybe earlier…I am not awake at that ungodly hour so I can’t tell you for sure when she rises), she takes a walk with her two dogs, has breakfast #1, turns on her laptop and reads as much of the Huffington Post and the New York Times as she can, goes out to the barn where she feeds horses and cleans 20 stalls, and then comes back in and has breakfast #2.

All before 10AM. She does more in a day than I dream of doing in a week.

My mother lives on a farm in Vermont. She is breathtakingly beautiful, like the views of the mountains from her kitchen windows. She is firmly rooted, like the flowers in the gardens around the house. And she is wise, like the trees along the ridge road.

And because this is also a blog about writing, I want to tell you about my mother in that context too.

My mother knows the power of stories. The ones that are hers to tell, like the time she was an angel in the Christmas pageant, all decked out in cardboard cut-out wings, and she hauled off and punched the angel next to her because the she sang the Christmas Carol wrong. Or the time she fell off of a fence and broke her wrist only no one believed her so she went around with a broken wrist for days before her mother finally took her to the doctor. Or the story of her birth, which goes that her father was stationed in the Philippines while her mother was pregnant, and he woke up in the middle of the night at the exact time she was born and he knew she had come into the world, knew she was a girl and knew her exact weight and length.

That last story is completely my mom in a nutshell. Powerful strong like the wind, strong enough to travel all the way across an ocean...

My mother is also a writer. She’s a good writer. She says she’s not, and then she distracts you by pointing to the fact that her mother was the one who wrote lengthy letters to us grandchildren, the one who wrote funny poems from the point of view of the Thanksgiving turkey, the one who, upon her death, we all found out had written secret stories that she never showed anyone. (That my grandfather promptly burned, not thinking they were worth anything, but that is another post all together.)

And my mother is right about my grandmother. But I am also right about her.

Case in point: My mother writes an email to a group of us about American Idol every week. An email that would rival a PhD dissertation in its detail and analysis about every singer and every song. An email that is perhaps the most hysterical part of my week. My mom is smart and funny and, truly, the Idol producers should have hired her after Simon left. She is even more direct and sarcastic than he is.

Another case in point: She wrote the most beautiful tribute to Obama, to the evolution of our country...and to hope... the day after the last Presidential elections. I still have it and I still read it when I need an infusion of faith.

My mother also sews the most amazing quilts, cooks the best fish you have ever tasted, has the largest and most eclectic song list that has ever been created on iTunes, and has literally breathed life into a stillborn puppy. My mother is creativity personified. She is Mother Earth in blue jeans and a sweatshirt. She is the first snowstorm in November and the first crocuses in April. (And you do not want to be in her path when she twists on down like a tornado—usually because of some stupid thing some politician has said or done or made a mistake about.)

The landscape that is my mother is one that I am forever grateful to be able to live within.


  1. Oh, how beautiful. And how lucky you both are.

  2. this is just lovely, and so powerful -- thank you!

  3. Oh, Tam. This post is so touching. You are two very lucky ladies!

    I think, someday, you'll have the same things said about you....