Thirty women writers tell of the special gifts – everything from a scarf to a horse to a tourist cruise – that deepened appreciation for their mothers.
What's the most meaningful gift your mother gave you? That's the question novelist and editor Elizabeth Benedict asked 30 women writers. Their responses, collected in What My Mother Gave Me, provide a beeline into the heart of mother-daughter relationships.
The prized gifts range from the material to the ethereal, the straightforward to the symbolic. Almost all are ultimately instructive, conveying the sort of life lessons rarely delivered in fancy wrapping. They include a salvaged front door that provides a perfect portal to a warm homelife; a sickly plant that delivers lessons about parenting and patience; a life-changing first trip abroad; and money for an interfaith wedding the mother wouldn't live to see, carrying with it her implied blessing.
Not all of the mother-daughter relationships in "What My Mother Gave Me" are close ones, and dismayingly few of the contributors' parents had happy marriages. Many were marred by alcoholism. But the stories these daughters tell about how a scarf, a Buddha, a jade necklace, or a tourist cruise led to deeper understanding and appreciation even for deficient mothers are mostly heartwarming, rather like more polished versions of Dave Isay's Story Corps narratives.
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