I returned home a couple of weeks ago from visiting my folks in Ohio. My mom has advanced Alzheimer's disease. In the past, there always seemed to be a glimmer of recognition in her eyes when she saw me. This time, there was nothing but a blank stare.
My mom was a teacher most of her adult life, only taking time off to raise my brother and I. As soon as we left home, she returned to work, gaining her master's degree at age 50, just like me. Generations of her students sent her Christmas cards and letters throughout the years, telling her she had changed their lives. What is remarkable about this is that she came from a disastrous childhood. She turned her circumstances around to help children who felt lost, like she had.
My mom was my biggest fan, and she instilled in me a love of children's books. "No money is wasted on a book," she would say. When my book, Birds in Your Backyard, was published, my mom acted as my publicity agent, fearlessly booking signings and school visits. She knew no strangers and made sure everyone knew about me.
And so, as Thanksgiving Day approaches, I want to say, thanks Mom. You might not understand the words or know who I am, but you are always in my heart and in every word I put on the page.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.