Mother’s Day, for me and perhaps for you, too, is bittersweet. On the sweet side, I feel so blessed to be a mother and I love spending the day with my children. On the sad side, my heart also hurts a bit because it reminds me of my mother, who was so wonderful, and who I still miss. And so, in her loving memory, and with thanksgiving for the very special editor and illustrator who both played important roles in blessing my mom in her last days, I’d like to share a special memory. I hope it blesses you too, with the reminder of just how powerful simple acts of kindness can be.
Here’s how this special memory unfolded:
It was October 2013 and my mother was suffering from ALS. Except for labored one or two word bursts, she had lost the muscular ability to speak and was growing weaker day by day. One morning as I was praying for her – she lived 6 hours away in Virginia – it suddenly struck me that she might not live long enough to see my first book, GOODNIGHT, ARK, published.
My mom had been a great encourager to me on this journey into children’s book writing and I’d always appreciated her artistic perspective (she was an artist) as she read and critiqued my manuscripts. She and I had been so excited to learn that Jane Chapman would illustrate, and now, I realized, she might not get the chance to see those illustrations.
A wave of sadness poured over me and I emailed my editor, Barbara Herndon, at Zonderkidz, to ask she if she had a sketch or illustration sample or anything that I could share with my mother while she was still able to communicate – even if only in a limited way. Within the hour, she responded that yes, of course, she could send something – and not just anything – she had already special ordered two folded galleys of the entire book – and when would I need them by.
Already feeling blessed beyond measure by this act of kindness, I now added that my sister and I had a special trip planned to see our mother. In just over a week, we’d both be swooping in from our faraway homes for a special mother-daughter weekend. It was short notice, but Barbara did not hesitate. She said she would do her very best to make sure they arrived in time for that visit and immediately made arrangements for them to be ailed by overnight express to my parents in Virginia.
The pictures here, taken by my sister, show me with my mom and dad opening the package from Barbara and then enjoying the folded galley together.
Because Barbara responded so quickly and so kindly, my mom was able to enjoy Jane’s illustrations and she even got to communicate her love for the illustrations with Jane via a short email. Then, Jane – in her own act of kindness – sweetly responded to my mother’s thoughtful artistic reflections about Janes’ illustrations.
It was a very special shared moment made possible by a compassionate editor who responded above and beyond the call of duty to make something special happen for a dying woman (my mom) and her daughter (me).
I will forever be grateful for that act of kindness and it came just in the nick of time. My mom passed away a month later – and that trip with those folded-galleys turned out to be our last -and very treasured – time together.
And now, on this Mother’s Day, if you find yourself missing your own mom, perhaps this will inspire you to dig deep and find a special memory that will bless your soul.
Take care, all!