A Love Letter To My Mother


There are things you gave me that I love—gifts that took no thought or conscious effort on your part. Had that not been the case, there would be no gifts to love, except for one. You gave me a clunky old typewriter with messy ribbons and stuck keys, and I loved it. It showed you recognized a gift in me that was just beginning to emerge, and it changed my life. The ideas that swirled around in my head were pounded into paper. My typewriter was my sanctuary. That gift means more to me than you will ever know.

You gifted me with creativity. It burns in my core, defines me and touches everything I do. Other than love, I value it more than anything. It lights me up and guides me. Without it, I wither. Sharing it with others makes me vulnerable and human and sets me free.

You gifted me the love of reading—falling head over heels into a story—a way to lose myself, find myself, and be myself. You inhaled books like oxygen. I can still see a perfect vision of you curled up on the couch with a glass of wine and a romance novel. I brought an armful of books home from the library every week as a kid and lived inside each story as a way to escape my own.

You gave me blue eyes—the only part of me I find truly beautiful. You and I share the same blue eyes, and everyone else has brown. It’s a part of you no one else has but me. It makes me feel special. The blue is deep and lovely like still waters. It’s a swirl of playfulness, kindness, and suspicion—the color of sapphires, lapis lazuli, and hummingbird wings. They light up when I smile and draw the secret-tellers and peace-seekers close.

You gifted me with freckles. You called them angel kisses. I must have been special to have angels watch over me and cover me with kisses. They loved me, and they must have loved you more because your freckles were infinite. You reminded me of Harlequin ice cream with your fair skin, freckles, and strawberry-colored hair. I told my own freckled daughters how the angels loved them so and kissed them across their pink noses and cheeks.

You gifted me with charm, a quick wit, and humor. I’m a clever woman just like you. You are confetti, exalted laughter, and Mardi Gras. My charm is subtle and unpretentious—a perfect sliver of your rhapsodic charisma. My disarming, self-deprecating humor is my connection to other people. It’s a mixture of sarcasm, naivete, curiosity, and quirk.

You gifted me with intelligence. We are solvers of problems and puzzles. Your street smarts make you a survivor. I’m an empath with book smarts. I was the first one in the family to go to college. You took a more difficult path that included a baby at 16 instead of textbooks and midterms. I have no doubt you would have been top of your class.

You gave me the gift of one perfect day at the movies to see Sleeping Beauty. It was just the two of us and I sat in amazement watching Briar Rose dance in the forest and sing of the man she knew from her dreams. I met my prince and he loved me at once. We had a beautiful daughter with Sleeping Beauty hair and another beauty with Princess Aurora’s loving heart.

You gave me the gift of loving old musicals—a gift given to you by your mother. I grew up singing along to Ethel Merman, Rosalind Russell, Julie Andrews, Doris Day, and Gene Kelly. I watched you smile and sing along. I imagined you dancing in the rain with Gene Kelly and strutting the stage like Gypsy Rose Lee. You sang “Que Será, Será” to me and I spent my life wondering what would be. Would I be pretty? Would I be rich? I had to wait and see. Things turned out pretty good for me, Mom.

You gave me the gift of curiosity—no questions left unasked; no mysteries left unsolved. You gave me the freedom to explore, to tear things apart just to see what made them work, and follow paths to see where they went. I must have asked you why a million times. I still ask why, what, how, when, and who. Why do I feel so deeply? What is it that I love? How does it all work? Who are you to me? When will I know you? One day you will tell me when I ask you again about who you are.

You gifted me with a sassy spirit. I come from a long line of sassy, saucy, strong, stubborn women. We say inappropriate things at inappropriate times. We’ll bust your balls just to make ourselves laugh, but won’t waste our breath if we’re not interested in you. We’re cheeky monkeys—mischievous for days. I love my sass and gladly passed it down to my daughters. We need more sassy women in this world.

You gave me the gift of a story. It’s heartbreakingly triumphant in the way it tore me down and turned me into something better. There are chapters of stained and tattered pages I want to burn to ash, but even more pristine pages embossed in gold. It’s a slice-of-life story of trauma, drama, ascension, victory, and romance. You wrote the beginning and I wrote the rest. It’s all me and it’s all mine.