Mary Claire and Her Nana

My mom is reading “Table for Six” for the first time. She didn’t want to read an advance copy, said she trusted me, said she’d wait. I gave her a hard copy on Sunday and have been fretting ever since.

It’s not that I said anything derogatory about her. It’s just that memories are so… subjective. And the “truth?” It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Every story is so uniquely different. That’s why I love reading and writing so much. Whenever I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), what results is no longer “mine.” It morphs and changes and twists and turns into whatever my reader perceives it to be. Likewise, I never read a book that the author intended. Instead, I read what I interpret, assign meaning according to my own experiences.

I talked with my mom briefly yesterday. She was on her way to “Lunch with the Ladies” and didn’t have time for an extended review. Our conversation went like this:

ME: Have you written me out of the will yet?

MOM (laughing): Of course not, Honey. I’m about halfway through. And it’s really, really good. (Pause.)

ME: But…?

MOM: No “buts.” It’s good — really well-written. I’m so proud of you. (Pause.)

ME: And…?

MOM: Well, you’ve portrayed me as a smoker… (Yes.) And a drunk… (Not really. Perhaps “social drinker” might be a more accurate description.) And a goofball… (Well, okay. I think we’re all portrayed as goofballs. But in a light-hearted, self-deprecating kind of way.)

ME (growing increasingly concerned): Are you okay with it? I mean, if you’re not okay with anything in the book, I’ll fix it. I meant everything with love and respect, Mom. Nothing in it was meant to be harmful in any way.

MOM: I know, I know, Honey. And I’m fine with it all. It’s really well-done. I like that you called me “beautiful.” It’s just so… out there.

ME: Well, that’s what happens with a book release.

MOM: I feel like I’m on Facebook.

And there it was.

“I feel like I’m on Facebook.”

The elusive bane of my mother’s existence. She hates Facebook. Hates that everyone knows everything before she does. Hates that she can’t surprise us with any news because we’ve already read about it from someone’s Facebook post. Hates that every intimate detail is shared publicly. Hates that it’s a world she’s not privy to because — at least technologically — she’s still living in the 197os.

In many ways, I’m sure the Under-Sharer is a bit perplexed at giving birth to the Over-Sharer.

But I unapologetically continue to love life’s stories and the always fascinating telling and re-telling of them. I love what we hear, what we perceive, what might have been intended, what ultimately is interpreted. I love that slice of humanity. Who are we if we don’t have stories to share?

My mom’s stories are some of the best ones I know. And although she features heavily in “Table for Six” (because, ultimately, she is the creator of all my stories), I barely scratched the surface of her beautiful, sacred, scarred, and blessed life.

She is a lovely story, my mom. She is passion, humor, survival, tenacity, sarcasm, wit, and unconditional love.

She is where my story began.

I will never claim that my interpretations of my own history are “true.” After all, Carrie would never agree that she was raised in “White Harlem.” My interpretations are simply mine.

Life is like a big, ongoing game of “Telephone,” isn’t it? What I whisper in your ear changes when you whisper it in your friend’s ear. What you witness from your vantage point might be substantially different from my own view. Sometimes those different interpretations result in heartache and misunderstanding. More often, though, I choose to believe they result in a grand illumination of what it means to be a human being.

I choose light and laughter and love.

Thanks, Mom, for helping me write that part of my story.

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  1. Can’t say enough GOOD about your mom! One of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known. What a blessing she has been in my life, Mark’s life, and our girls. We all adopted her long ago. Can’t wait to read this book!! And yes, she is a lovely story and beautiful in every way. 🙂

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