By Ann Haywood Leal
I was walking to my car, thinking about my work-in-progress, and I thought to myself, I've got to tell Mom about this idea. She'll like it.
Maybe it's because she was always there when I was starting a writing project. I associate those exciting, possibility-laden moments with her.
At the very beginning of my writing life, I got in huge trouble for writing "words" all over my little pink cardboard stove and refrigerator. Most parents would immediately take away the crayons of a three-and-a-half-year-old who did that. Not my mom. She made sure I had enough paper and writing utensils to make my own books for my words. My brothers and I were always allowed to use the sharp scissors.
Mom took us to the library every week. She never rushed me, and we knew never to rush her. Because books and everything that went with them took top priority.
She was working as a reading specialist and ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET. was the hottest book around. I could not get that book at the library. The reserve list was a mile long. Mom brought it home for me. She had swiped it out of a kid's desk over the weekend. "It'll take her a while to read it," Mom said. "But I'm sure you can finish it over the weekend." I read it twice that weekend and Mom popped it safely back in the girl's desk before she got there on Monday morning.
When my first book came out, I felt a tiny layer of sadness that Mom wouldn't ever get to see it. She would have been thrilled beyond belief. I mentioned this to my dear friend, Pat, who smiled and said, "Oh, she knows. She definitely knows."
Happy Valentine's Day, Mom.