Recently I've been helping my Dad cleaning out the house he shared with my Mom before she passed away in April. It's been tough, revisiting my memories with her, and also dealing with the grief. As I tackled my old bedroom and started cleaning out my childhood closet, I found several books I read as a child in Italy.
Like this one, "La Sfida di Lizzie", or "The Bet's On, Lizzie Bingman!" by Rhea Beth Ross. This book was published in 1988 and I read it around 1990-1991 for the very first time. I recall reading this novel as if it was yesterday, my heart stuck in my throat, and the many emotions and realizations that surfaced as I got lost in Lizzie's story, the only female child of a conservative American family in the early 1900's.
This led me to a spiral down memory lane and how much I read in my childhood--and all of that reminded me of one important thing. My mom and I did not have a good relationship. We were equally stubborn, yet completely opposites on everything else. We fought and fought and there was a lot of damage done to our relationship. But as I look at the book, suddenly I realize one thing:
Despite the hurt, the emotional drainage, and the many fights, the one thing my Mom had always been consistent with was allowing me to purchase lots and lots of books. As an introverted child, I could easily go through three books in a week. She never complained about it. She encouraged me to read and even at our poorest times, she always found the money to buy me a new book.
Every year there was a book fair at our elementary school, but many kids never purchased any books, as the parents could not afford them. Somehow, Mom always bought me at least two books from them, one of the happiest days of the school year.
As I navigate through the memories and the tears, I find it hard at times to find something positive in my relationship with her...yet, now that I sit back and think about it, Mom instilled her love of reading into me. Not only that, but she once said "With your imagination, you could write one of the most popular books in the world." A rare praise, really, but it stuck with me...and maybe subconsciously it made me the writer I am today. Not one with the most popular book in the world, but someone who received her love in this subtle way...and for that I'm thankful.