A Mother’s Designs

My mother had a good deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
Mark Twain

My mother had great designs for me. I was to be an artist — a dancer on the musical theater stage. She financed endless dance lessons toward this end. For years she arranged car rides to-and-from lessons; suppers were kept warm late into the evening. Clothes were cleaned. Schoolwork was managed. Sleep was achieved. My mother stretched the twenty-four-hour day into something much longer; somehow there was time for everything — lessons, rehearsals, schoolwork; schoolwork, rehearsals, lessons; morning-and-night, day-in-day-out for years.

Last year my mother told my eldest son the story of her shock when I informed her I didn’t want to dance anymore.

“She said she didn’t want to dance! She wanted to be a writer!” she told my son. At seventy-nine years, her indignation was still raw. “She was supposed to be a dancer! A dancer! She didn’t know anything about writing!”

My son — a journalist — was taken aback. His life had been shaped by my desire to write. Books, adventures; stories of books, stories of adventure. These had been the substance of his childhood. The words of H. G. Wells, Richard Heinlein, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Jack London, and Arthur C. Clarke had been his daily fare. Canoe trips, camping trips, hiking trips, snowshoeing and snow forts had given experience to his own words. To write was to live. To write was proof of having lived. Like a photograph, like a painting, like a drawing, a sculpture, words captured what was –

Before my mother fell ill at Christmas, she had become reconciled with the fact that I would write. She looked forward to my blog posts. She learned that my thoughts were of poets, my adventures were of plants and birds, geology and the changing landscape. She heard how Whitman inspired me, how Eiseley taught me. She heard N. Scott Momaday through me. She saw how the words of others, combined with my life’s adventures — dance included — had informed all that I saw, felt and wrote.

My mother had a great deal of trouble with the idea of me; but in the end, I think she enjoyed what I had become…a dancer on snowshoes, perhaps; a winter’s wordsmith tracking across an open field.

Twain, Mark. (2017). The Complete Works of Mark Twain (Illustrated Edition): Novels,
Short Stories, Memoir, Travel Books, Letters, Biography, Articles & Speeches
. Loc 135581. [Amazon Digital Services].

8 thoughts on “A Mother’s Designs

  1. Thank you for instilling a love of writing in Tobias! Although your styles are different from each other, you both write with such beauty and clear control of the language. Judging from the stories I hear and the connection you and your mother have, I would say she is proud of you. We could call you Nature’s Dancer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Wayne! It’s become a way of life to step outdoors to experience what the day might bring. Thank you for reading my thoughts and commenting. It’s fun to connect in this way with someone who experiences the world in similar ways.


  2. I didn’t like learning to dance much as a child. I hope you will teach me again as an adult. Thank you for your kind words and the life-time of encouragement that shaped me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for you.


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