I love my mom for many things. She is calm and cheerful, loves wine before dinner and Bailey's before bed. At eighty three years old, she never tells you how she's feeling, how her bowels are performing or what her cholesterol is. She once told a joke at the dinner table and laughed until she cried about a guy whose nuts were too high. The look on my dad's face was priceless, seeing as how he was spending a lot of money on Catholic school so his kids wouldn't be exposed to talk of nuts.
As a first grader, I was more than a little slow when it came to reading. It was suggested that I repeat the 1st grade, but with a sister right behind me, my mom would have none of that. I wasn't aware of that at the time, but I did figure out that staying under the the radar was a good way to get through the school day. The summer before 4th grade, my mom took me to the local library and enrolled me in the Vacation Reading Program. Each time you read a book, the librarian would put a point next to your name for all to see. For someone who couldn't master reading, it seemed like a horrible idea until the day I discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Big Woods and Plum Creek.
Back in those days, we only had one car that my dad took to work every day, so my mom was home all day taking care of kids. Six kids. I am sure there were a hundred other places she would have liked to have gone once my dad got home, but instead she took me to the library and pushed me over my reading hurdles.
Now I love words, think long and hard about the way I use them and write every day. That I owe to my mom, who found a way for me to spend that summer on a little house on the prairie while just a stone's throw from Chicago.