Friday, March 14, 2008

My Mother's book...

SL's suggestion that we pass around a notebook got me thinking about my Mother's book. In 1994 my mother decided that she would mark the European Year of the Family in a couple of ways. Firstly she decided to write a book. A book about her life, growing up, meeting my dad, his family history, getting married, having 13 kids etc. etc. She didn't have a computer or a typewriter and so it involved getting a lot of it typed up. She'd get the bus into town to get the photos copied in Reeds in Nassau street, lots of leg work really. Now this wasn't a book ever to be published. It was meant for her children.

She asked each of us to write a section for it. Just a couple of pages about us and family and what it all means to us. She put it all together, bound them and presented them to each of us on a weekend away in a hotel back in 1994. The book amazed us. It had so much information contained in it's pages that we never knew about her. It had a history of our parents before they became parents. It had love letters from my Dad. It had photos of each of us and our children.

When I started my own blog I kinda thought it would be like my mother's book, a record of a life and through that my daughter could get to know me. I think it's a good idea to leave your children a record of you. I know we discussed this the night of the first 4nine get together in Midge's house and it was suggested that our kids can ask their god-parents about us but I don't really think that would ever happen. They may find out random pieces of information about you from your friends but it won't be the you that you want them to remember.

My Mother's book is still something that all of her children treasure. We all say that everytime we pick it up we read something different. I'd love my daughter to feel the same in a few years.

Apologies if this sounds all schmaltzy and sickening, but even after all these years I still can't think about the book without involving tears. Probably not what my mother intended.


  1. O h god As, I was so impressed when you told us this. I think I blocked it out because I feel guilty for not doing it. It's such a beautiful idea.

    I can see the pain. I have a lot of my mother's diaries, she left them to me. My father told me I should burn them!! The Ass!

    But they aren't for me in the way your mother's book was intended for you.

    You know, it is something they suggest terminally ill mothers do, make scrap books. Very Susan Sarandon, I know.

    Have you read Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris? There's something similar in that, as well as I think, Like Water For Chocolate, though they're bound up with cooking, it's half cook book,half scrap book. When I read my mother's recipes in her handwriting, I feel a little like she's still there for me to call during a baking crisis.

    It's hard.

  2. Excuse initial typos there, Ash, not As.

  3. Aw Jo the recipe idea is lovely. I kept and framed a receipt for carpets that my mother used to blot her lipstick. It's like a big kiss. She used to blot her lipstick everywhere. I remember getting into school and being mortified that she had used the cover of one of my copy books!

  4. Lovely idea Ash, especially the fact that it was planned and the effort that went in. Do you ever think about how different it will be in a generation or 2 as there is sooo much information out there for future generations to hold onto.

    If I kicked the bucket tomorrow not only would people have years of diaries, poetry, writing, letters and photographs, but about 10GB of computer crap, text messages, phone bill records, everything I ever did in college and some from school, this blog, facebook, bebo, years of work email and hotmail messages, etc, etc. If you were obsessed enough you could spend forever going tru all that rubbish.

  5. After my second child I did the morbib letter writing thing, you know, not to be opened unless I die....

  6. I did a video the first (and only) time I flew by myself...

    Milan - that much stuff actually comes under the heading of pain in the ass to sort through and try and decide whether it's ok to throw out!

  7. I saw your post about your mom. I am a New York Times bestselling author working on a new book about mother-daughter relationships and thought you might want to contribute. Please visit my page for details about submitting stories for Mom's Little Angel.

    Gregory E. Lang
    Author, Daddy’s Little Girl

  8. That comment above? Our most surreal moment yet. I had a book given to me for my 30th with memories of friends, pictures and things written by them. Still can't open it without getting upset.

  9. That is mad. My public in 49£, my feared public is Ireland but I forget that there's a whole wide world out there.

  10. Don't know what to make of that really. Especailly since it comes at the same time as this: take a look at the last anonymous comment on this post: