Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Gift From My Mother

My Mother Kept A Garden
author unknown
My mother kept a garden,
a garden of the heart,
She planted all the good things
that gave my life its start.
She turned me to the sunshine
and encouraged me to dream,
Fostering and nurturing
the seeds of self-esteem...
And when the winds and rain came,
she protected me enough-
But not too much because she knew
I'd need to stand up strong and tough.
Her constant good example
always taught me right from wrong-
Markers for my pathway
that will last a lifetime long.
I am my Mother's garden.
I am her legacy-
And I hope today she feels the love
reflected back from me.  
 __________________________________
I found this poem in a local newspaper in a section on Mother's Day tributes. Pass it along to someone you know who would enjoy it. The verse is rather timely with Mother's Day on the horizon. 
A friend highly recommended this new book that just came out in April as good resource for me since I am teaching a memoir class in the fall. If you need a Mother's Day gift idea this might be just the one for you. I really enjoyed it. 
This non-fiction book is a collection of essays that illuminate the complexity of mother- daughter relationships. The contributors include some best selling novelists, broadcast journalists and Pulitzer Prize winners. Some of the names you might recognize are Mary Gordon, Rita Dove, Joyce Carol Oates, Ann Hood, Carol Leavitt and Reverend Lillian Daniel.  
The author, Elizabeth Benedict's book  The Gift My Mother Gave Me, began as an obsession. Toward the end of her mother's life the last gift Benedict got from her was a winter scarf. For 7 years Benedict wore this scarf around her winter coat. In 2011 she began thinking and wondering if other women have had similar experiences becoming attached to a gift from their mother. And so the seed was sown for the book.   
Each contributor to this book was challenged to think about one gift from their mother that might reveal the story of their mother-daughter relationship and reflect on it in essay form. The treasured gift written by each contributor varied from tangible items like an etiquette book, a family photograph, a quilt, a cake pan to intangible items such as resilience and determination. Many of the contributors did not realize till years later the importance of a particular gift from their mother and how it ultimately shaped their lives. 
This collection of essays portray the beauty that can be found in a wide variety of mother-daughter relationships, whether the relationship was one that offered endless support and unconditional love, or was terribly complicated and broken, or somewhere in between. Even the writers who experienced heartbreaking unhappy childhoods were able to reflect on some gift their mother had given them and how it greatly impacted their life. Each story was unique and it was interesting to consider complex mother-daughter relationships from different perspectives and contexts.
I enjoyed the variety of writing styles from each of the 31 writers. At the back of the book is a great bio section listing important information about each contributor. 
The book was thought provoking as I reflected on a memorable gift my mother has given me. 

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