When I had a wonderful second grade teacher in public school, and began to come home with a notebook filled with Haikus and stories, my mother would make such a big deal of them! I wrote a collection of poetry in fourth grade with another wonderful teacher, about the different ages of man, youth, middle-age, and old age, which she still brags about. Early on, I felt that my talent was writing, and that I would go far.
Then came those difficult adolescent years, and not-so-wonderful teachers, they told me NOT to share my story about dying with the other students, as they might mock my work, and my inspiration died in me. But not in my mother, who still encouraged me to write, reminding me of the quality of my work, and my gift for expression of the deep thoughts of others. When mediocrity was celebrated around me, in the late 70's, and all that mattered was to act as if one were bored and turned off by everything in life, I wrote a journal and kept my faith and my idealism alive. Mom was there, encouraging me not to give up on myself.
When finally, I had had enough of the imposed mediocrity of my public high school, where no one cared if you could write, Mom brought me to her high school reunion at an all-girls convent school, and when I wanted to transfer there, she found the money to make it possible. My first paper was just a paragraph using the spelling words, but when I read it in class, the girls cheered! My confidence resurged, and, by the end of high school, after seeing Pope John Paul II in Madison Square Garden, I won a poetry contest at Catholic Daughters for the poem I wrote about his trip to the USA. Mom proudly brought me to the awards ceremony, telling me she had known I could do it all the time. I aced the SAT's English section, and received awards, again, Mom was behind me, beaming, telling me the sky was the limit.
Although I began as an English major in college, intending to pursue a career in writing, I got discouraged because I was afraid of facing rejection as a Catholic in the often atheistic world of journalism. After a few months working in Europe, however, I began to write poetry again, and I returned home to get my Masters to teach English as a Second Language. I worked in a university environment, and felt at home with those who loved learning , and strove for excellence. Mom told me she always knew I would end up as a college professor, that I fit in there.
Seventeen years later, teaching English to foreigners, homeschooling three daughters, including my 13 year old who has begun to win acclaim for her essay on her sister Christina (see post) my mother was still gently nudging me to write, reminding me of my past successes, and how I amazed her since fourth grade with my poetry. I had written and published an article in the Monfort Magazine, "Queen of All Hearts", 1995 on the Holy Father's visit to New York, but didn't try to write anything more.
This year, again, thanks to Mom's quiet urging that I write if only to use my God-given talent, I finally began to believe in myself, and began writing letters to the editor in "The National Catholic Register" who, not only printed them, but often highlighted them.
My reflections on the passing of my beloved Pope John Paul II, were printed in "The National Catholic Reporter", and "Faith and Family", and I began to think of freelance writing as a real possibility. Guess who wasn't at all surprised?! I wrote for the parish paper, kept up the letters to the editor, and began my first blog last October, held my breath, and submitted a query to "Faith and Family" about writing an article about Christina's birth.
No one was more excited for me than Mom, not just for my success, but for my newly re-born belief in myself as a writer, that which she has known all along. Thank you, Mom, may God repay your patience with me, and may I repay your faith in me, by instilling the same self-confidence in my three daughters. I dedicate this blog to you.