Ta da! Behold the cover of my almost-a-book. Although I wasn’t involved in its design, it is absolutely perfect. Absolutely my vision of the little girl in the title story. That someone was able to translate my words into that perfect image thrills me.
My sister, Lili, said, “Our parents are so proud, I’m sure.” Well, I don’t know how aware they are — they died in 1995, five months apart — but I do think of them often, especially my mother’s unrealized dream of writing.
Both of our parents sacrificed to earn Dad's degree from
Mom said she wanted to go to school, next, to become a teacher or a writer. Dad felt his degree was sufficient to support the family. He regretted the stand he took, later, as illness became her career and she turned into a ‘silent girl,’ depression, pain and medication leaving her uncommunicative.
Surprisingly Dad died first. No need for my sister and me to speak at the funeral. The church was full of those he touched with his love and generosity. Many testified about how he’d been there for them throughout their lives like a second brother, uncle, or father.
Five months later, we wondered who would speak for our mother.
The night before that funeral, Lili found an envelope of poems, articles and stories as well as rejection slips from Reader’s Digest and Ladies Home Journal. Into the early morning I compiled and edited some of our mother's work for the eulogy. I’d been aware over the years that, from time to time, she emerged from her defeated state to write and attempt to get published, but I hadn’t seen some of the pieces. A few were corny: Yankee Doodle went to town/He went as an equestrian/ Yankee Doodle found a crap game/And went home a pedestrian. Others moved me with their promise: How beautifully clean is this morning/Washed in the rain, dried in the sun.
As I read her poem about the child she lost between my sister and me, I saw my daughter wipe her eyes. Her son was just over a year old at the time and I figured that was why.
“No,” she said, later. “I was thinking about what she could have been.”
I’m not trying to be my mother’s voice in my writing, but her unfulfilled life has guided me for years. For her sake, I am trying to be all I can be, to let my own voice be heard. Absolutely.