76: A Gift from My Mother

76: A Gift from My Mother

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

A Gift from My Mother

What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can’t reread a phone call.

~Liz Carpenter

My mother always said, “The greatest gift I ever gave you girls is each other.” My four sisters and I know how true that is.

But in terms of concrete gifts, what I appreciate most is something I found while cleaning Mom’s house after she passed away. It was a box full of her letters.

We are five sisters with twelve years between the oldest and youngest. Every few years, Mom wrote a description of each of us. It’s a bit disconcerting to read about my eight-year-old self as “a bit lazy about making her bed,” but how wonderful to read that Mom thought I was “happy and thoughtful and so good with the baby” at the same age. It’s fun to read Mom’s thoughts about my sisters, as well. It always leads us to a “Mom always liked me best” competition—and we can point to the truth in her very own handwriting.

The box also contains letters from my dad during World War II. He describes Italy with such passion that I wish he could have revisited a place he seemed to love in spite of the war.

There are diaries that detail trips my parents took. I can see the sheep pastures in Ireland, taste the bangers and mash in London, and smell the fish market in San Francisco as my mom experienced them.

She saved letters from friends and relatives that contain bits of stories I wish I knew enough to ask about while there was still time. I think she kept every letter I wrote to her from college and postcards from trips I took. I relive my own long-forgotten experiences in my own words.

Mom has letters dating back to the 1940s from her aunt in Key West and her cousins in County Cork. She has the telegram that arrived when her sister eloped, programs from class plays, and yellowed newspaper photos depicting friends experiencing their fifteen minutes of fame.

Hundreds of pages introduce me to so many sides of my mom that I love learning about. I am going to savor it all, slowly.

I feel sorry for the next generation. With all their tweeting and texting, they will never find a treasure such as this.

~Eileen Melia Hession

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners