Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Had a Mother Who Read to Me (Mother's Day 2008)

Here is my mom with me probably in 1963. On the right is my mom winking because she is feisty like that. Just yesterday, she told me she saw Tina Turner, who is 68, on Oprah. She said "That Tina said she loves being 68. She has learned a lot and loves her life and doesn't care that much what she looks like. I say, 'Wait 'til you get some 80 on ya, Tina; then let's see what you say!'" And we both cracked up. "Get some 80 on ya?" where did she get that? My mom is funny and has great cheekbones. I did not inherit them. Below is the newspaper column in the Muncie Star Press honoring her.

COLUMN: Thanks, Mom, for Opening my Mind, Heart
By LINDA CROW • May 10, 2008

When I was little, I often clutched books as well as dolls close to me at bedtime, cherishing them equally. In fact, some of my earliest, happiest memories are of my mother reading to me. Although it has been 40 years since I've held my childhood books in my hands, I can still remember many illustrations and recall my mother's voice ringing out the phrases of my beloved stories.

My favorite was about three little siblings who built a snowman but forgot about him after they went inside for the evening. The deserted snowman gazed longingly into the picture window as the children decorated their Christmas tree. It's hard to overstate how the snowman's loneliness broke my heart; in fact, all of the compassion I've had as an adult for others or animals has never surpassed the intensity of sympathy I had for that storybook snowman!

Now I realize that I was so moved because my mother read with such enthusiasm and expression that she completely drew me into the story.

One day, I asked Mother whether she remembered this story, and she said yes, although she couldn't remember the title. Neither could I, so I searched the Internet with only one sentence and one scene committed to memory.

Guess what? I found it: The Snowman's Christmas Present, by Irma Wilde.

A week later, I opened the book for Mother in my home and read the words that evoked memories of being smaller, sitting securely on her lap with her arms around me, smelling a hint of Dove soap and brushing against her cotton sleeves and gingham skirt: "This is the story that the Snowman told to the Big Red Sun at sunset on Christmas Day." We turned to the page where the snowman remained outside, and I shared with her how that scene affected me, how her reading formed a life-long love of reading in me.

Mothers do so many big and small things for their children, imparting important lessons, meeting their children's every physical, spiritual and emotional need as best they can. But sometimes, in the most quiet, unassuming, unplanned ways mothers touch their children's souls for a lifetime without realizing it. That's what my mother's reading did for me.

I am 45; my mother is now 82. I write this thank you to her today as a way to "rise up and call her blessed" (Proverbs 31:28) for investing her time and herself in me for so many years. And although my mother was -- and is -- absolutely wonderful in every way, I would like to offer this poem by Strickland Gillilan as a tribute to the precious gift she gave me when she lifted me onto her lap and opened not just a book, but also my mind and my heart. Thank you, Mom, ... I love you.

The Reading Mother

I had a mother who read me things
That wholesome life to a child's heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that every Mother were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold,
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be;
I had a mother who read to me.

Linda Crow, of Muncie, is the mother of three teenagers and works in youth ministry. Visit her blog at

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