Mom told us she'd be a writer one day; her success turned out to be a big inspiration.
- Posted on Oct 30, 2008
I wished that I hadn't opened the old cedar chest, for there, under the quilt I'd come for, was the familiar box with the words "Acceptance Letters" penciled on it.
Now the rose fragrance that Mama always wore wafted faintly toward me and I looked again at Mama's writing box. Memories rushed in and sadness filled me. Her great dream of being a writer had never become a reality.
I first knew Mama was really serious about being a writer about 20 years earlier. She sat at the kitchen table with a tear sneaking down her cheek as she put on paper how she had just been forced to sell a horse, an old paint, that she loved. We had needed the money for a payment on the house.
Mama never sent the article anywhere, but after that day I saw a new light in her eyes. "Children," she told us, "your mama is going to be a writer. I feel that the Lord wants me to write stories so that others might feel uplifted."
First she bought stationery and business cards with her name, address and the words "Writer and Lecturer" on them. She said it was important to handle things correctly and in a businesslike manner. She believed that editors would be more likely to read her work if the cover letter looked proper.
She then cleared a corner in the basement, made a desk by putting a door across two file cabinets and borrowed a typewriter from Grandpa.
But what I remember most was the box that she carefully placed on the desk beside her stationery. The box had been covered with a piece of cream-colored cotton strewn with tiny blue forget-me-nots.
She had tied a pale-blue ribbon around it and confidently written those words, "Acceptance Letters." I guess it must have never occurred to her that she might get some rejections.
Mama gathered her notes, got a copy of Writer's Market and began writing. However, before she finished even one article, Dad left us. Mama was suddenly solely responsible for the care and support of her children.
She always found time to write us encouraging notes to slip into our lunch boxes or leave on our dressers—but never enough time to write her stories. Mama always told us, though, "Don't worry about my writing, darlings. God gave me the dream, and God will take care of the dream."
Years came and went; I don't recall now when Mama put the box and stationery away, but I do recall that one day they were no longer on the desk.
Occasionally when I'd see her sitting there, I'd think, Now she is writing her stories. But it was always a letter to one of my brothers in the service, a card to a friend or a cheerful note to Grandpa.
As we children grew up and began to leave home, Mama would comment on how she would soon have the time to write.
But something would always come up—Mama's brother was in a serious car accident and she went to be with him; my sister needed help with her baby; Grandpa got sick and came to live with us; a neighbor had no one but Mama to turn to.
Mama never had an article published, for Mama never had a chance to write.
Now I reached down into the cedar chest and picked up the acceptance box. To my surprise, it was very heavy. Its ribbon was worn from tying and untying.
"What could she possibly have kept in here?" I mused aloud. Carefully I opened it. I began to read the "acceptance letters" that lay inside.
"Thank you, Mom, for your daily letters. I could never have made it through boot camp without them."
"Just a note to tell you how much my sister appreciated your support in the many letters you sent her during her years of illness."
"Thank you for writing me during these long months that I've been carrying my baby."
"Thank you for taking the time to send me the pretty note cards. Sometimes an old man like me gets to feeling like no one wants to bother with him."
"Your letter came when I was at my lowest point. You dared me to be my best, and I am now one of the top salesmen in my organization."
"Mama, your many letters have helped me retain my sanity during this difficult time. Thank you so much for your constant support, prayers, hope and, most of all, your love."
God does fulfill people's dreams. Mama was a writer.
For more, read Celebrating Mom: 7 Inspiring Stories about Mothers.