I partially followed in my mom's footsteps--she was a published author, too. She wrote children's short stories for magazines. One of her stories was adapted for use in a grade school reader. She loved kids, and always had a passel of them around. Cousins of all ages spent time with us on the farm, sometimes for weekends or summer vacations and sometimes for a year or two because life in our little house in the woods was better than their lives in the city.
I didn't inherit Mom's passion for raising other people's children, but I did inherit her love of books...and writing. She taught me to read at age 3 (at my insistence). I was a January baby and in those days, unless you were born before the end of December, you had to start school the next September. Although I was almost 7 by the time I stepped onto that yellow school bus and thrived on the learning part of Grade 1, I found the social aspect of the experience extremely difficult. Most of my days were spent wishing I was home with my mommy.
Last week as I was going through old pictures to help my daughter create a video collage for Mom's memorial service, I came across some letters...that I wrote.
Mom told me that whenever I missed her at school, I should write her a letter. My teacher apparently told my mom I talked funny. She was probably right, judging by the way I sounded out some of the words and phrases in those lonely, homesick letters...
Dear Mummy I want to see you now. I guess I will aftoeweat (have to wait) to see you. Begose (because) it is not time to go home. I have a lope in my trot (a lump in my throat). I swlod (swallowed) it now. I hop it will not come again. I hop you are doing fin. I am doing fin.I gaive your letter to Miss.young. I! LOVE! YOU!
good-by for now Eileen p.s. over....
[My editors will notice my love of the exclamation mark started at an early age. My readers will notice I began to develop my story-telling abilities at a young age, too.]
It is reses (recess) now. I am tayerd (tired) now. our ool (whole) Room had a esy(easy) test. I will till you now how I made in it. [Notice how I am building suspense.] I made 100 in It. It is lache time (lunch time) now. I wate (want) you very much. I guess it is chast (just) ubout time to go home. I have not-hing to say for now But just went (just wait) [again, building suspense] mayBe I have yes! I do! I can not find aneybody to play with. I think I will tow (?) I can wat to see you now be gouse (because) it is Jues (just) about home time. Soo good-by.
I was obviously learning the therapeutic benefits of writing. I also quickly learned other benefits, too, like asking for things. A few months prior to the above letter, I was in bed upstairs with chickenpox when I sent this note down with my little sister:
I am fanneg [finished] eating now. I am egie [itchy]. It is shallie [chilly] up here and I want you to make my bed
Today I am that sad little girl again...missing her mommy.
Maybe I'll write Mom a letter...
Eileen Schuh, Canadian Author
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