A Mother of a Story

again from Mountain Mecca & Hippie Heaven!

our surprise summer has vanished, leaving behind a gloomy rain perfect for a
lazy, couch-bound Sunday. I’ve got itchy reading fingers and a stack of books
which have been calling to me, including: “Anansi Boys” by Neil Gaiman,
Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert, “Leaving the Farm” by Ross Klatte
(a member of my writing group, and a highly recommended read for anyone who
grew up on a farm), “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” by Bruno Traven, and, of
course, “The Purcell Suite” which I rambled about in the last Coconut

If you
think my “to read” stack is big, you should visit Mom Nancy’s house!

Mom’s Day, it’s appropriate that I talk about my various mothers but I’d like
to tell you about how these women, (how many mothers do you have? You’re
probably wondering), have helped fuel my love of the written word.

My first
mom, Lorraine, the angel who adopted me, loved me, and raised me, was not a big
reader. She did, however, make sure that I always had plenty to read. Not an
easy task for a kid who devoured books like most kids eat candy. In fact, she
once went to my elementary school teacher concerned that I was going to run out
of things to read. “Don’t worry Lorraine,” the teacher assured her, “when
Kristene runs out of books, she’ll just write her own
.” Hmmmm.

Among my
Xmas or birthday presents was always a book, or two, or three. My bookcase was
my pride and joy. My pleas of  One more
chapter! One more page! One more paragraph
!” before bedtime were tolerated with
great patience. Of course, Mom didn’t know that I would wait in the dark until
I heard the telltale snoring, then turn on my lamp and continue reading,
sometimes until sun up. Mom probably didn’t also realize that, as well as
building my vocabulary, she was providing me with the tools that would
eventually shape my view of the world.

”, by Louisa May Alcott, may not seem like the kind of book a future stunt
person/handy woman/adventurer would be drawn to, so it may surprise you to learn
it was, hands down, the book I re-read most as a child. For those of you not
familiar with the story, “Little Women” is about the March family, specifically
their four daughters – Meg, Jo, Amy & Beth – growing up in the mid-nineteenth
century. Jo was the second oldest daughter, a spirited tomboy of a girl, and
the focus of most of the story. I wanted to be Jo March. I saw, in the
character of Jo, that a woman does not have to fit the stereotype to be happy
and loved. She can be strong, outspoken, intelligent, courageous, and
passionate and still be every bit as feminine as her more dainty sisters.

Could my
mom have known that by giving me that book, she was also giving me permission
to be the kind of woman I wanted to be?

books which I held dear as a child include: “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B White (I
loved all of his stuff), “The Hobbit” & “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” by
J.R.R Tolkien (I didn’t read the trilogy until I was in my early teens),
Beautiful Joe” by Marshall Saunders, “Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell (yes, I was
an animal lover from the get go), “Little Men” also by Louisa May Alcott,
James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl, “The Lion, the Witch, and the
” by C.S. Lewis, and many, many, many more.

My next
mom came to me courtesy of hubby Prez. Imagine walking into the home of your
new boyfriend’s mother and seeing the walls lined with books! Books on the
tables, books on the floor, books in every room, and a conspicuous Scrabble
game in the corner – this is the home of Nancy, my mother-in-law and fellow
bibliophile. (Did I mention she also likes martinis?)

I’ve yet
to read a book Mom Nancy has given or lent to me that I didn’t like. She has
introduced me to authors I’d never heard of and genres I may not have explored
on my own. And best of all, she is a writer. Her column “Williwaws” (meaning: a violent gust of cold wind that blows down from a mountainous
region to the coast and out to sea
) appears weekly in the Qualicum Beach
News. While I am fiction and she is non, it is nice to have someone who
understands the thrilling/torturous process of putting words on a page in an
order which makes sense and keeps people reading them.

Nancy also has fabulous handwriting – something we do not share, sadly.

Some of
the books she has shared with me include: “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara
Kingsolver (a must-read), “There is a Season” by Patrick Lane (skip all of
James Fry’s million pieces and read a real story), and “The Yellow-Lighted
” by Lewis Buzbee (which triggered a literary drive down memory lane) 

My last
mom today is Mom II, also known as Ruth-Ann. Now, Mom II is not exactly an avid
reader, nor is she a writer, but she is my biggest fan and cheerleader.
When Mom II says she “couldn’t put down” my latest chapter or short story,
that’s about the biggest compliment a writer could get. Any writer who tells
you they are not plagued by self-doubt on a regular basis is a big fat liar. If
I had a dollar for every time I thought, “Oh
my god! What am I doing? This is complete crap; I have no talent!! What made me
think I could be a writer??!
” I would have about the same amount as if I
had a dollar for every time Mom II told me how great my writing is – millions.

I know
not all of my stories are to her liking, and sometimes she must wonder about
the strange person who lives in my head, but you’d never know it from the
wonderful words of praise she always has for me. In fact, I’m thinking I could
start a business renting her out to other writers who need a little boost.

“Hey Princess, it’s Steve.”

“Oh, hi there Mr. King!”

“Yeah, I’m kinda stuck on the
last chapter of my new novel, I have a deadline I don’t know if I can meet, and
I’m really bummed out about it. I’m starting to worry I’ve lost my edge.”

“There, there, I understand. How
many days would you like to book Mom II for this time?”

“Oh, I think a week should do it,
and she can bring her dog, Goldie, too if she wants.”

“Well, of course, that is
in her contract.”

think a woman with 2 kids, 152 grandkids, and 812 great-grandkids (OK, maybe a
slight exaggeration) wouldn’t have the time or energy for a little nobody
writer such as myself, but time and again she inspires and encourages me to
keep at it.

someday, I find myself at a book signing in New York (using the Cross pen given
to me by Mom Nancy, of course), fending off hundreds of rabid fans, and smiling
for the press photographers, there will be three women beside me (if only in
spirit) sharing the glory – Lorraine, Nancy, and Ruth Ann; my three moms.

Mom’s Day to all the special women out there who help give us the words to
write our stories.

What special gifts did your mom give you?

next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!

The princess

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