My mother taught me many things I never realized until I was in my mid-forties. She taught me in a silent, unspoken way with her own choices and her own example. It wasn’t until after a conversation with my husband last year that I realized what my mother had truly accomplished by completing a Bachelor’s (and later a Master’s) degree in the early sixties. She attended many classes at UC Berkeley where she was one of the few women or the only woman in her class. After the conversation, I realized I had taken my mother’s efforts for granted. I had assumed that her degree from Berkeley was a common or even expected achievement. Now I know that it was not.
My mother also taught me not to dwell on the fact that female authors are under-represented in the publishing industry. Most of her life, my mother has chosen to read books written primarily by women. My mother’s love of reading was passed down to me and I spent many summer vacations devouring novels, but I never realized she consciously chose to read female writers. She mentioned this to me a few months ago during one of my visits to their house in Colorado. I have read many wonderful novels and memoirs written by women, many of which I discovered in my parents’ bookcase.
Growing up, I had free run of my parents’ extensive book collection. I was allowed to pick and choose from literature representing all age groups and virtually all genres. Alternatively, my time spent in front of the television was limited. Now I truly understand the value of reading and the importance of fostering good reading habits in young people.
Most importantly, my mother has always been a constant source of good humor, love, and kindness, the heart and soul of our family. She has taught me much more than I will ever know.