Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Mother's Daughter

It’s official. I have become my mother. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. No, I am developing one of my mother’s best traits. She could strike up a conversation anywhere with anybody. You could have dropped her on Mars and she would have been friends with those Martians in no time. She met Florence who became a life long friend on a street corner.

The downside was my father was always worrying when she went out on an errand and never came back – until he learned to look outside. Sure enough it would turn out my mother had run into somebody and lost track of time as they stood on the street talking.

For years I never shared her ability to strike up a conversation with anyone. I was the wallflower who couldn’t think of anything to say.

WAS is the operative word. A few days ago I was in Michael’s picking up some more yarn for the crocheted Cuddle Blanket in DEATH AND DOILIES. I often pass other shoppers, but it always pretty much been a ships passing in the night sort of thing. But this time it was different. A woman came down the aisle and joined me looking at the baby soft yarn. She glanced at the skein I was holding and the next thing I knew she was telling me that her daughter who lived in Hong Kong had one birth child, but had chosen to adopt a sibling. She was a knitter and wanted to make a blanket for the new addition. Her daughter was adamant it not be a gender specific color.

She asked about the Baby Cloud yarn I was holding and then showed me a creamy yellow baby soft yarn and wanted my opinion. Together we picked out an off white to go with it – she wanted to make a blanket with two strands of yarn.

Then I was telling her about the crochet and knit group I belong to and inviting her to join. She took down the details and I remembered I had some bookmark for HOOKED ON MURDER in my purse and gave her one.

It turned out she only read mysteries and was just now looking for something new to read. The fact that my book take place in Tarzana and we were standing in Tarzana made her that much more interested.

As I walked to the front to pay for my yarn, I knew my mother was smiling from wherever she is. I finally got her ease of conversation.

I hope this new found ability is here to stay. I am going to be on a radio show again and this time for more than five minutes. It’s a show called A Touch of Grey ( and is syndicated on 50 stations including WABC 77 in New York (Saturday nights between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm) and KRLA 870 in Los Angeles (Sundays 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm). The taping is next Thursday and I am going to be talking about how a few years ago my life went from not being close to my dreams to taking a right turn on the road to everything I ever wanted.

What about you? Do you see your mother’s traits in yourself?


Linda O. Johnston said...

The kinds of things I inherited from my mother, Betty, include her dreams. I've been fortunate enough to be able to carry through with some. She spent a long time researching a romance she wanted to write based on Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browing, but never completed it. I fortunately started having novels published when she was still aware enough to support me by attending book signings... with assistance. She's gone now--unfortunately before I started publishing the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries which she would have loved. She was a great believer that her own parents stayed in contact with her when they were gone. Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for her to contact me...

Betty Hechtman said...

How nice that you could carry your mother's dreams on and that she was able to attend some of your book signings.

Like your mother, I do believe my mother is still in contact with me. There is this light in my Chicago apartment that goes on and off and then on again sometimes. I know it's my mother.

Sheila Connolly said...

I would add a slightly different take on what you said. My mother (and her mother before her) developed what I called derisively a "Gracious Lady" manner when talking to strangers. It always struck me as artificial and condescending, although I suppose it was better than standing there silent as a rock.

But for myself, I've become far more gregarious than I ever used to be. Part of it is losing that awkward self-consciousness--heck, nobody is paying attention to me anyway.

But a bigger, better part is that I'm now honestly interested in what other people have to say. You never know what strange and wonderful things they can tell you. For example, I attended a picnic at a friend's house and starting talking to the elderly mother of another guest. I turned out she had flown planes in WWII, which you certainly wouldn't have expected just looking at her.

Is this useful for writing? Of course. But you don't need an ulterior motive to find people interesting.

Betty Hechtman said...

I'm with you, Shelia. I do love to hear what other people have to say. There are so many surprises like the woman you met who flew the planes.

Sometimes when I am in a crowd I look at all the people around me and think about how each of them has a story full of interesting details.