Books and Blogs: The Same Redemptive Story


As inadequately nurtured as I may have been as a child, my mother DID manage to influence me in one hugely positive way.  She gave me a love of books.  She gave me a passion for reading—a romance with story that has marked my life in dramatic ways.

I realized this after retrieving Christmas decorations from the attic and coming across a box of children’s books I hadn’t looked at in ages.  In reviewing the contents of that box, I rediscovered some of the books that most influenced my early childhood and impacted the person I’ve later become.

The fact of the matter is this.  When I was born in 1962, my mother had the education of children very much on her mind.  Having graduated from college in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, my mother had her career teaching kindergarten interrupted by her marriage to my father in 1961 and my birth in 1962.  However, when, in 1964, my mother read Glenn Doman’s book How to Teach your Baby to Read, she transformed her desire to educate into a determination that would teach me to read.  (Or at least she tried.)

My mother did exactly as Doman suggested, making massive flashcards and hanging them like signs on items all over the house—towel, table, television, toy box—all signage appropriately placed.  This was a radical idea in 1964—the notion that babies could be taught to read—and my mother told me that people thought she was crazy for trying.

More mainstream but equally bonding was her reading to  me—especially before my afternoon naps.  One of my favorite books was “Dr. Goat”—a story about reciprocity and kindness—most of which I can still recite my heart.   Dr. Goat helps those in his community who are sick, and they, in turn take care of him when he becomes ill.

So it comes as no surprise, since the earliest (and one of the few) bonding experiences I had with my mother occurred over books and the experience of reading, that I might grow up to pursue the writing of books myself and the teaching of writing to others—that I would, as an adult, become a voracious reader and lover of everything related to the making of stories.

I doubt that this is exactly what my mother had in mind when she tried teaching me to read.  However, the desire to write and a love of reading have both been with me for decades.  I can’t imagine my life without either of these.

Words make meaning, and stories explain the world to us.  Words tell us who we are and allow us to see ourselves in new and remarkable ways, while stories comfort and challenge us to be more, to be better, brighter, more thoughtful in our pursuit of kindness and more careful in our regard for others.

My mother may not always have nurtured me as I needed to be nurtured, but she instilled in me a passion for books that I hope will one day nurture others.  If I can somehow tell my story well enough, sharing it via blog or book, if I can promote it with sufficient enthusiasm, perhaps, redemption will be possible and mothering will be mine.

Dr. Goat reminded me as a child and again the other day the role reciprocity has in creating a sense of community—how vital it is to what Dr. Goat was really all about—the pursuit of healing and wholeness.

It makes sense then that the writing of my memoir would participate in this reciprocity—taking the negative words that I was sometimes given as a child and turning them into something good, something that can heal, something that can promote community.  It’s a process we can all participate in.  Giving and getting, helping and being helped—a redemptive whole that heals.

Thanks to all of my readers for participating in this redemption during the past year, this sharing of words.  It’s this exchange of kindness and good will—these posts and comments—that make the blogosphere the healing place it has been for me.  May your year to come be blessed with more of same—the same love, the same light, the same redemptive story.

Note:  If you are new to my blog, you might like to know that I am writing a memoir and blogging about growing up in an organized crime family.  This post is part of that story.  To read “Kids Make the Best Bookies,” click here.  If you are interested in reading any of my protected posts, please email me at kownroom@yahoo.com  or let me know in the comments below, and I will gladly share the password with you.

48 thoughts on “Books and Blogs: The Same Redemptive Story

  1. Beautiful sentiment, beautifully stated. As you look through your past, you remember and respect this dimension of your mother. It’s a perfect example of the way writing a memoir can deepen our relationship with who we are and where we’ve come from. And it’s inspiring that you want to contribute to the flow of culture, by pouring your own story into the river of life. Great piece. Thank you.

    Jerry
    Memory Writers Network

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    • Thanks so much for reading, Jerry. And thanks, as well, for sharing this post with your Facebook friends. I’m honored–truly honored! I wasn’t terribly confident about this post, so I’m thrilled you think it works!

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  2. I started reading to my son when he was a very young baby. He was not a good sleeper and reading to him even before he could understand what I was saying seemed to make him happy. I can still recite The Lorax from start to finish and my son is now 38. He probably can too. He learned to read very easily and continues to love books.

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  3. I could not have expressed this perspective any better myself. You have an obvious gift for writing, and it makes perfect sense for you to share it with the masses.

    I have found that memoir writing brings a kind of self-enlightenment that might otherwise remain undiscovered. It encourages our subconscious mind to dig deep into who we are as individuals, where we came from, and to gain a better understanding of how we fit into the world at large.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful perspective, and I wish you continued success in all your endeavors. Happy New Year!

    Best,
    Kevin

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    • Thanks so much for stopping by and reading, Kevin. I saw that you have a memoir coming out in 2013, so you would clearly understand how these insights come. It’s an amazing process–painful and enlightening at the same time. Hope you will come back again soon!

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  4. Excellent post, Kathy! Warms my heart. Redemption leads to healing. This is a concept I have learned in my own life over the past few years.

    Happy New Year and all the best in 2012!

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    • I’m pleased that this post spoke to you, Marianne. I would expect that you could appreciate the spiritual healing that can come from this. I appreciate your sharing that that’s, indeed, the case. Happy New Year, my friend!

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  5. I think it’s neat that despite your tense relationship with your mother that you are able to see some good, see what she did give you just as easily as what she didn’t. I’d hate to think of a world without Kathy reading and a’ writing 🙂

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    • You’re a sweetie, Tori. My mother may have made mistakes, but she also did some important parts of parenting well. I guess that’s the way it is with every mom or dad. You do some things well and other not so well–the human condition.

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  6. Like you, I’ve always loved to read. Books take me to new places to meet new people. I think books tear down boundaries. Literature is the best weapon against ignorance. Maybe that’s a bit idealistic, but I believe it’s true. It’s wonderful that this was a positive thing in your relationship with your mother.
    I love that someone has written “Hooray for Dr. Goat” on the last page of the book. 🙂
    Happy New Year to you and Sara! May your memoir take off in 2012!

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    • I should have commented on my mother’s penciling in “Hooray for Dr. Goat.” We read the book so much that the last page fell out–and that’s what the missing page said.

      Hooray for you, as well, Jackie. Sara and I wish you lots of luck with your Shine series in the coming year. We have loved being a part of it.

      Happy New Year, my friend!

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  7. “but she instilled in me a passion for books that I hope will one day nurture others. If I can somehow tell my story well enough, sharing it via blog or book, if I can promote it with sufficient enthusiasm, perhaps, redemption will be possible and mothering will be mine.”

    Oh … you can tell your story well enough and then some.

    Beautiful post!
    MJ

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  8. When Jimmy was a tiny boy he loved a story called “Zelda and Ivy” about two fox sisters, one naughty and one an unwitting victim of the naughty one. Jim and I read the thing to tatters and still refuse to give it away. Dr. Goat looks like he received lots of the same kind of love Zelda and Ivy did. Perhaps,if you think about it, Dr. Goat helped you heal, too. Hurray for Dr. Goat, indeed!

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  9. Kathy, you don’t give yourself enough credit! Of course you tell your story well enough … I love reading your story, as do many others as evidenced by the responses in your blog. 😉

    I love that you can appreciate your mom for reading to you. I think that there may be a few other things as well, and that those have allowed you to view the less positive aspects of your relationship with her from a place of love and compassion. It was my dad that instilled a love of reading in me. But the book we wore out was Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Sox. My dad could probably recite it line for line to this day.

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    • It’s true. There were a lot of things my mom did right. Plus, I’ve had a lot of therapy that has helped me forgive her for the things she didn’t do as well. Glad to hear your dad gave you a love of books, as well! Hope you have a great weekend.

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  10. My mom instilled a love of reading in me too. Isn’t it funny how those books were just stories way back then? Then you look at them now and realize what an important role they played in your life. Thanks for reminding me of all the books I loved as a child!

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    • Yes, it is amazing how we can see the importance of these things now that we are adults. Who would have guessed? I’m so glad to hear your mom gave you a love of books, as well. It’s a great gift! Thanks for reading, Terri!

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  11. Your mother probably never knew she gave you the perfect escape from the frightening parts of your life, a place to go where you always felt safe and sane. God bless the folks who helped us read!

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  12. Another lovely post, Kathy! Our mothers seem to have a lot in common, including their love of books and their desire to instill that love in their children. My brother and I both learned to read very early, with visits to the library being a regular ritual from the earliest time I can remember.

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  13. I have never met Dr. Goat. Wow, a new experience on the very last day of 2011! I am glad your mother ignited a fire to read in you. Without that, your stories might never be born, and that would be a tragedy indeed.

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    • It should be noted that she did not succeed at teaching me to read at age 2. I was not nearly that bright. And there’s something to be said for retail therapy at a young age–at any age, actually. Happy New Year to you, V!

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  14. I’m so glad you have a good story to share about your mother. Hopefully you will excavate other good memories as you go.

    I have another one for you — she saved your childhood books. My mom threw everything out. I have very few childhood keepsakes from her. (I did spy a book or two of short stories she used to read to us in Annie’s room. She read them to Annie when she was sick.)

    Happy New Year Kathryn!

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  15. Beautiful written, Kathy. Thank you for sharing so much, and allowing us to come along with you on your journey.

    Happy New Year, my friend. Wishing you peace, health, and happiness. 🙂

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  16. I was just thinking about some of the books that shaped my childhood and youth, too, but I confess I was mostly remembering those silly Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley Twin books of my pre-teens. 🙂

    I’m so happy and honoured to be a part of this journey with you, Kathy. Looking forward to your new memoir posts soon! 🙂

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    • Hmmmm–I didn’t read either of those. I remember these early ones, as I have copies of them my mom saved. I don’t remember the later ones I probably should.

      Thanks so much for being a part of my writing life, Dana. I love sharing it with you–more than you can ever know. You are dear to me! Hugs to you and blessings to you and Marty in 2012!

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    • Thanks for READING THIS post, as well. I suppose for some reading just comes naturally–like breathing.

      At any rate, I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Hope you will come back soon!

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  17. Wonderful post. It is amazing how uncovering something as simple as a child’s story book can bring up remarkable memories that inspire and motivate us. I was touched by your remembrance of your mother who tried to teach you to read at such a young age. It is good that among the painful memories of childhood, there are also these wonderful morsels of love that shone through at times. As to your writing, excellent! I look forward to the day that you publish your memoir and I can purchase the book!

    Have a blessed new year.
    C

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    • Thanks so much, C. It is strange and unexpected how this stuff surfaces–a wonderful gift in so many ways. I would be honored to have you read my memoir. Thank you!

      Happy New Year, to you, as well. Hugs—————

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  18. I am so privileged to be along for the ride! I look forward to reading your redemptive tales and having my heart warmed by your openness and generosity. May your Dr. Goat be on his feet and on his way 😉

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  19. It makes sense then that the writing of my memoir would participate in this reciprocity—taking the negative words that I was sometimes given as a child and turning them into something good, something that can heal, something that can promote community. It’s a process we can all participate in. Giving and getting, helping and being helped—a redemptive whole that heals.

    This isn’t just beautifully expressed; it makes me reconsider why we share these things in a whole new life. Thank you so much for this wonderful reframing.

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    • The fact of the matter was I didn’t even realize that I felt this way until I wrote those sentences. It amazes me how writing literally creates change and allows us to achieve insight. Thanks for reading, Deb.

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