Tuesday, April 03, 2007

CWO's Spring Into Summer Blog Challenge



This article is my submission to the blog challenge sponsored by Darlene Schacht, Author of The Mom Complex.


I Had a Mother Who Read to Me

The most loving gift my mother and father gave me was to rear me in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). That phrase sounds formal, but what it really means is that they taught me how much Jesus loved me and how to love him back.

The second-best thing in my childhood: my mother read to me--about Jesus, about fuzzy talking animals, sweet poetry and cherubic kids who looked nothing like me.

Now, I loved dolls when I was little, but I loved books just as much and often ended up with both dolls and books in my bed at night. Although it has been some 40 years since I’ve held my "storybooks" in my hands, I can still see some illustrations and remember some phrases. And even though my mother is now 82 years old, I can still hear her younger, soft, expressive voice lilt, “Good morning, Mr. Sun! Have you seen Tommy?”

There was one story in particular that I loved about three little children who built a snowman but forgot about him they went inside for the evening. The snowman, far out in the yard in the starry night, looked longingly into their picture window. The scene was all aglow with Christmas warmth, haloing the children decorating their tree. I could feel the snowman’s loneliness—I was out there with him! Never mind that he would have melted in that house; he missed them—he wanted to be included—he broke my heart! The only phrase I could remember from that book was, “Me too!” cried little Davey, “Me too!” As I rehearse that line in my memory now, I realize why the story and dialogue gripped me so: it was my mother’s total abandon into the story that aroused my compassion.

Middle age often makes you nostalgic for your childhood, and that’s a good thing when your mother is still on earth and is as mentally adept as ever. One day on the phone I asked Mother if she remembered this story, and she said she did indeed, although she couldn’t remember the title.

And then I had an idea: I would search the Internet for that nameless book, with only a sentence and a scene committed to memory.

Guess what. I found it.



And so I ordered The Snowman’s Christmas Present, by Irma Wilde. As soon as I saw the cover, my heart leapt. Then I read the words that evoked feeling smaller, feeling secure in my mother’s lap, and how she smelled when I was little:

“This is the story that the Snowman told to the Big Red Sun at sunset on Christmas Day.”

A far-away, deep wonder re-surfaced. My memory quickened. Joy arose, and my eyes filled with tears.

A week later, my book arrived, and I was able to open the book for Mother in my home. She seemed just as surprised by joy as I was. I was able to turn to the page where the snowman languished outside and share with her how that scene affected me. She was touched, I could tell. I was able, by the graciousness of God who allows her to be with me still, to thank her for reading many books to me over and over, and for the security of her arms and lap. It was one way that I could “rise up and call her blessed” (Proverbs 31:28).

We mothers do many big and small things for our children. Sometimes we’re intentional about leaving lasting impressions and imparting lessons, and sometimes, in the most inauspicious ways, we touch their souls for a lifetime without realizing it.

I will always be thankful that I had a mother who read to me, and that is why I love this poem by Strickland Gillilan:

The Reading Mother

I had a Mother who read me things
That wholesome life to a child's heart brings –
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh that every Mother were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be.
I had a Mother who read to me.


1962

9 comments:

Mel said...

Linda

Love the blog! And love the story of your Mom....

I think the gift of reading to our children is priceless.. :)

blessings to you and yours,
Melissa

Southern Girl said...

What beautiful memories, Linda! Thank you for sharing them -- and thank you for reminding me about that book! I had it, too, and it affected me much the same way it did you.

My mom still has a Little Golden book that she had when she was very young, and it's practically in tatters, so I was thrilled one year a few years ago to find a much better copy on eBay and won its auction so I was able to give it to her for her birthday. One of the best gifts I've ever given her.

annb said...

I love that you enjoyed your Mother reading to you. I, too, was blessed with a Mother who knew the importance of reading! Every day at naptime, I can remember lying in bed with my sisters and my Mother in the middle - reading to us as we went to sleep. Some of my favorites were "Heidi" and "The Boxcar Children". I always dreamed of living in a boxcar and sharing in the adventures of those children. My Mother was a Bible class teacher for most of her years and we, too, were brought up knowing of God's love for us and learning how to serve Him. Thank you for sharing your memories and in so doing bringing back many of the memories I have of my Mother.

Toni (In the midst...) said...

Wow! I had forgotten about The Snowman's Christmas Present. I'm amazed at all the details that quietly slip below the surface of the conscious mind and yet, they're there just waiting for someone to stir them from endless slumber. That really was a great book. And how special that you and your mom got to share it together yet again. Thanks too for your wise words over at my blog.
Blessings,
~Toni~

Gabrielle said...

My late Mom also read to me when I was a child and she made me love books. She wasn't raised up as a Christian and my Dad was a born-again when I was 10, it was after I could read the books myself :)

My Dad is 82 years old too, like your Mom and mom was 17 years younger. Life's really in God's hand :)

Thanks for visiting my blog! (hugs)

Susanne said...

My favorite memories with my own kids from when they were little is of them sitting on my lap or beside and us reading together. It's such a cuddly, loving, bonding time.

And BTW, when I grow up I want to write just like you.

Lynn Donovan said...

Oh Linda,

You and I are kindred sisters. I was moved all over the place with this story. About the book and about your mother, your middle-age thoughts. I am right there with you. I want to order that book just to have it.

This story brought many memories of times gone by and I just want to write them down. I remember an old book about a Big rock. Have not been able to find it but will keep looking.

Wonderful!!! wonderful!!! Wonderful. Love and hugs, Lynn

Jen said...

That was a lovly post
Im pleased your mother installed in you a love of books
Books are wonderful
Its great that you were able to find that book and share that time with with your mum
like the photo too
I like old pictures and its great that the old car is also in the shot
a fitting and loving tribute to a wonderful mother

Darlene said...

Linda, I love this story, and yes, it is a way that you have called her "blessed."

I can't remember my mom reading to me even once. I don't think it ever happened. I can only imagine the emotions you must have felt, finding that book from your past. Wow.