My parents and I routinely swap reading material - books, magazines and newspaper clippings of particular interest. My dad saves magazines and articles on finance and investment, but much of what my mom and I pass back and forth is fluff - magazines that center on celebrities, soap operas and entertainment - things we both enjoy reading, but which hardly qualify as great literature. But even fluff yields the occasional treasure - like the interview in which a veteran soap opera actor fielded questions about his decision to leave his show "prematurely" after 25 years of playing the same character. I saw my own mixed feelings so much in the answers he gave - sadness at leaving behind amazing people tinged with an excitement about what might lie ahead - that I clipped the article.
Becasuse we live more than 100 miles apart, my parents and I typically hand off this reading material at a family gathering or visit, so sometimes the bag of goodies gets set aside (in my house, at least) for future perusal. I recently unearthed one of these bags, emptied it and set the material aside for later reading. I have no idea how long it had been sitting in the "safe place" I'd set it in, but I know I'd had it for a while.
Mixed in with the magazines was a column my mom loves reading in her local paper - one she tells me about often because it does just what good columns should do - it simultaneously entertains the reader and fosters a sense of camaraderie between writer and reader, as the reader identifies with the words on the page in a personal sense.
The column was folded over and tucked into the bag, so when I opened it up to read it, I saw only what was above the fold - as I might have if I'd actually read it in the newspaper. When I finished reading above the fold and flipped the piece over, I automatically refolded it as my mother had, creasing it just shy of the last several paragraphs. The additional crease was merely a convenience - originally a way of making it easier to tuck into the bag for traveling purposes - yet by obscuring the final few paragraphs, I missed my mother's hand in this column. When I flipped the paper one last time to finish the column, I saw that my mom had highlighted the final paragraphs of the piece. These paragraphs were a beautiful commentary on mothers and their grown-up children from a parental perspective - "Mom Heaven," as the columnist dubbed it.
My parents have never been shy about telling my sister and me that they're proud of us, but I think this marks the first time my mom has ever used the printed word to share her feelings. As both a daughter and a mother, I loved the sentiment of the column, and the fact that my mother had marked those words just for me made me appreciate them even more.
I don't know how long that column sat in its "safe place," tucked between issues of Soap Opera Digest, and I felt a momentary pang of guilt over the fact that so much time had passed between the time my mom had clipped the page and marked it and the time when I finally read it.What I do know is that I'm grateful - as I am daily - to still have my parents around to thank for gestures such as these, and since I'm certain my mom will read this blog, it seems appropriate to tuck a little surprise for her in here.
So, thanks, Mom. Not just for the clipping and its highlighted words, but for being the kind of mom who does things like that, and whose support makes things like blogs and books and countless other things possible.
It's Daughter Heaven.