Today, for the first time, I held in my hands, a book with my published story in it. A tribute to my mother, it’s a lasting memorial to the first person to believe in me. It was a tender yet bittersweet moment, since Ma passed almost a decade ago. She constantly badgered me to write, yet I procrastinated.
As I opened the book to “The Most Important Day of My Life,” a tear of gratitude slipped down my cheek. I never thanked Ma for all she did. Not that she would have listened – Ma just did what she thought best without any expectation of gratitude. In fact, I didn’t even know about her dedicated efforts on my behalf until I was an adult. She never wanted me to use my slow start as an excuse.
Throughout my life, I’ve taken my time. Plodded. Studied, taken a few tentative steps forward, sputtered a bit, then charged full-bore into whatever challenged me. Recently, I’ve realized it’s been Ma’s influence which helped me believe I’m capable of succeeding great feats. Not only did I learn to walk and talk in spite of doctors who predicted otherwise, but I’ve exceeded expectations. This isn’t me being a braggart. Once I’ve decided to do something, some little motor within has revved up and pushed me toward excellence. Physically I’ve always had a little challenge, but academically or professionally I’ve found the magic and delivered.
Granted, I’m no genius. Nor have I invented the discovery of the ages. My professional life has consisted of mostly blue collar work. Journalism, typography, printing, truck driving, computer tech, and now bus operator, my occupational skill set isn’t overly impressive. I’ve enjoyed myself in these careers, always striving to achieve excellence. Yet behind the scenes of each job, I’ve been a creative writer. First and constantly, my love is the written word. It can be silly, painfully emotional, light hearted or soulful. But it’s always been there, since I learned to love reading at an early age.
Ma introduced me to Robert Frost, Hemingway, Dickens, Tolkien, Twain, Dickinson, Tennyson, Shakespeare. She knew long before I that I would be a writer. As this lazy and arrogant young teenager entered high school, Ma contrived to place me in remedial English. My English teacher, David English, must have agreed that I had potential, because he took a keen interest in me. I wish he could see what I’ve accomplished to date, because his tutelage spurred me to action. As a freshman in college, thanks to my parents and Mr. English, I had not only the cajones, but the ability to confidently tell the journalism adviser at Central Arizona College, “I want to be Editor, given the choice.” With a dedicated staff and excellent instruction, our newspaper won many awards, as did I. It was a springboard for my confidence. It also instilled a belief that if I worked hard enough, there was no limit to what I could achieve.
Now in my middle age, I still feel that confidence. However, life and love steered me away from my artistic endeavors for three decades. My practical side required I feed and clothe my loved ones; the caged creative side and only emerged to piddle on occasion. Now there’s a puddle begging to become a pond, then a lake and ultimately an ocean. My keyboard is my kayak. The mind yearns to float free and seek new dimensions for the characters I’ve created. The characters themselves have come out of the desert and dusted themselves off. Their words are abundant, they’re gaining substance, they’re begging me to roam again.
This publication is for both parents, who always encouraged me. Whenever I spoke to them of my dreams, they pushed me gently toward the proper path. I enjoyed a wonderful childhood, never lacked for anything. We weren’t rich in the financial sense, but my parents were hard-working and sensible guardians. If I’ve done even half as well as my parents, my children will achieve greater feats than I could ever hope to.
Knowing Ma though, she’s waiting for me to reach even greater heights. I’d better get back to work.