As a writer, I like to cover my walls with framed copies of published articles or contests I won to boost my ego on days when it sags. One framed story in particular means more to me than any of the others – perhaps because it was my first attempt at writing, but more importantly because it does what writing should do.
When I was in the fifth grade, I wrote my first and last poem. My mother had gone back to work fulltime that year and I missed her smiles when I returned home from school. Sometimes, mischief accompanied freedom and she might return after a long day to find the house a mess. She always forgave me and so one day I wrote down my feelings for her on a scrap of paper.
Parents to you are very mean
You may think they’re far from keen
Do you think this day and night?
Or only when they’re in your sight?
My little children, don’t you know,
That they were like you long ago.
They had parents like you too,
And with them they were never through
They listened to them each and every day
Never wanting to go astray
They had to learn this as you know
So to you they could always show,
How they love and care for you
Oh my little children how I envy you.
She cried when I gave it to her and then surprised me by folding it into a tiny square and stuffing it in her wallet. Now – a mother’s purse is sacred, so I never knew over the course of years whether or not she threw away that bit of sentiment. But years later, at my child’s first birthday party, my mother handed me a wrapped package.
“This one is for you.” I looked up in surprise and tore at the ribbon.
It was a copy of my poem. Through my tears, I cradled the gold frame now housing my thoughts forever in a calligrapher’s script. My childish words touched me as I read the sentiments written long ago and now so relevant to my own life.
Years passed before I started writing in earnest – actually submitting works and getting published. When I was ready, my husband designed an office for me with plenty of wall space. I dug through my memory box and unearthed the slightly tarnished frame with the forty year old poem and marveled how its message had endured through two generations.
It was then I knew how I should write. A writer’s words ought to move someone exactly like my poetry first moved my mother and then later me. When I wrote those verses, I wanted only to please my mother. Never did I imagine the lasting power of a child’s writing.
And so I look forward with great pleasure to the day when my simple words written for a moment’s absolution will touch again. I already have it planned how I will surprise my daughter on her child’s first birthday.
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