My Mother : A Short Story

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My mother had such a strong effect on her children that it’s easy to see the obvious. She taught us to be non-conformist, to follow our talents and dreams, to “just give it a try.” She taught us to play Scrabble to learn the importance of words, and to play cards to learn our numbers. Monopoly was for counting money as well as for basic economics: how much does this house cost? what’s the rent? is it worth it?

But each of her children took away much more than the basic life skills embodied by my favorite quote, “Never borrow money from a loan shark; look at Three-Fingered Dave.” And what each of us took away is kaleidoscopic, the same basic picture, each viewed through our individual lenses, so that you’d never know we were talking about the same woman unless you looked much deeper. I don’t know all of what my siblings saw, but I can tell you my vision.

Make your world as big as possible. DO talk to strangers, take the bus to the end of the line and back to see where it goes, let’s see if we can make some stilts and walk on them. When the supermarket was selling a Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in pieces, a letter a week, my mother struggled to get the dollar. We almost made it; we had 24 letters. But missing “S” and “T” irked me so much that in my senior year of college I splurged on a complete dictionary. I still own it 40 years later. It may not know about megabytes, but it covers the sibilants lavishly.

Take every opportunity to learn. One year it was Foods of the

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