The champions in our lives come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re often hanging out in places we’re not looking for them – in our homes, or even in our own families.
I haven’t gone into it – in part because I’m still debating how personal to make this space – but one of the main reasons I’m back on WordPress in 2017, dipping my toes again into writing online and sharing that writing with others in the form of a blog, is my mom.
My mom is a great writer – a journalist by training and profession, although she’s held many different kinds of jobs over her lifetime so far. Told during her early years at school that she “couldn’t write” by well-meaning but misguided English teachers in small rural schoolhouses, she nevertheless persisted in her love of words – both reading and writing them – and discovered, later on, that her first love as a writer was for journalism and news-style writing, a genre her early teachers hadn’t comprehended well enough when they gave her low marks on her classroom essays and composition assignments. It turned out she had a knack for the “inverted pyramid” structure of a crisp, well-written newspaper story – leading with the most important parts, then adding supporting quotes and background facts, and then letting the tail end of the piece drift away into tertiary details before coming gracefully to a close.
Of course, over the length of her writing career – professional and otherwise – she developed plenty of strength and facility with other writing styles and formats, but journalism was where she first found her voice as a writer, and it’s always been an important part of who she is as a storyteller and a communicator.
A few years ago, she left a job writing for a local newspaper in order to take on a broader role related to municipal arts management. She missed the frenetic energy of the newsroom and the thrill of chasing down a hot lead, but the hours in the new job were better – more regular, with fewer evenings and weekends – and the benefits were a vast improvement from what the paper could offer.
One downside was that, in this most recent iteration of her professional life, she was doing less actual writing, something she really missed. She and I are forever encouraging each other to find new creative outlets and ways to share this common interest of ours with others. She would ask me about the short stories, essays, or songs I was working on writing, and I would ask her about the interviews and feature stories she was doing (usually on a volunteer basis) for publication in some small local journal, paper, newsletter, or the like. But we both remained curious about the idea of writing blogs, an idea that would always come up from time to time.
And so, long story short, my mom and I, separated by half a continent but connected in our love for language and the written word, have been talking off-and-on for a while now about becoming “blogging buddies.”
Unfortunately, she’s been dealing with some relatively serious health issues these past few months that have taken a lot of her time and energy. Her life – forever busy with her job, her volunteer work, time spent with family, or just curling up with a good paperback mystery – has become, recently, a series of seemingly unending visits to doctors’ offices and being too tired, often, to even pick up a novel, much less write one. After several months on leave from her job – all the time champing at the bit to get back to work and some sense of normalcy – she recently went back to the office, only to be sidetracked a week later by another unexpected stint in the hospital.
She still hasn’t had time to keep up her end of our “bargain” and launch her own blog, but it’s not something I’d ever hold against her. Right now, she’s got more pressing matters to attend to, and I guess, in the meantime, I’m kind of blogging for both of us – even if that “inverted pyramid” news-writing style will never be my cup of tea, being much more disposed to long, rambling essays and discourses on myriad inter-related (and often unrelated!) topics.
I’m really hoping that, one day soon, my mom will be feeling well enough to open up her computer and join this lovely blogging community to tell a bit of her own story in her own words, or to share a few of her observations about life and living. I know her pretty well, but I know I’ll never be able to tell it like she could.
So, write what you know, or write what you don’t know, write what you love, or whatever you have to write, but for god’s sake write something. Do it with your words on a page, or with your actions out in the world, but do it. “Write while you have the light,” to paraphrase John 12:35, “so that the darkness may not overtake you.”
And, while you’re at it, you may as well start with a card to your mom. Or, call her up and tell her you love her. I know, I know, you’re still working on forgiving her for that insensitive and probably-too-judgmental thing she said the last time you two argued, but why not just let it go? It’s a little early for Mother’s Day, I suppose, but you never know what might happen between now and then. Only today is, only this moment.
So, this one’s for you, Mom. I love you! Feel better soon.