The People Who Shape Us

As I read about who influenced the women I’m writing about I’m also thinking about who influenced me. Today, I’m thinking about my mother and wondering what would have happened if she had continued to write. My mother wrote for her high school literary magazine/yearbook. I have a few well-crafted examples. She wrote, often, with an undercurrent of wistfulness and always with a strong sense of irony and a humorous, slightly cynical view of the world.

She could capture a moment so vividly that you felt like you were there with her, seeing the world through her eyes. She kept diaries through high school and her entries were pointed takes on her world. I wish I still had them. They were thrown away in a move when I was still young. I do still have a few letters that paint a vivid picture of what it was like to be a young wife on the Cornell campus whose husband was overseas fighting in World War II. I can see how she coped with shortages, put together her first apartment, entertained friends and family. Clearly, she was happy and satisfied. The letters are funny and still make me smile as she writes about improvising furniture and stretching ration points.

My mother never had the opportunity to return to her writing. She died when she was thirty, leaving many possibilities open. She created a life she loved – a beautiful home, two children, friends who loved her and spoke of her until the end of their days. She left a small legacy of writings that have so strongly shaped the direction of her children. My brother, who really never knew his mother, is a gifted writer with her sense of irony. I hear her voice as I write. I feel her peering over my shoulder, whispering in my ear. She’s as much a part of everything I write as she would be if she was sitting here now.

Who has shaped you? How did they show up in your life?


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