I seem to have unusual ways of doing things or unusual things happen to me. You, dear reader, can decide if this is an example.
Years ago, when I was preparing to move into my college dorm, my mother helped me pack clothes and the two of us tried to imagine all the other things I’d need to start my very first semester.
Mom was used to having me close where she would be available to help with homework or guidance for different circumstances, and I’m sure, since I was an only child, she was prematurely suffering from “Empty Nest” syndrome. I, on the other hand, was looking forward to making new friends and having a bit more freedom than I’d previously had.
Once there, the transition went smoothly and I got settled in nicely. Everyone with whom I came in contact was friendly and helpful. My roommate and I hit it off right away. It was a whole new world and I couldn’t wait to experience it.
I got the feeling as I finished unpacking that my mother was worried I’d forget about her, because I soon discovered she’d packed a tablet of stationary along with an equal amount of stamped envelopes addressed to her, so it wouldn’t be inconvenient for me to write letters home. She even wrote the salutation, “Dear Mom” at the top of each sheet of stationery and valediction and my name at the bottom. FYI that was before cell phones and e-mail, i.e. people used to write letters back then.
Anyway, I tried to be a good dutiful daughter and wrote every week telling my mom about all my classes and activities, the people I’d met and how lovely the campus was. I even justified why I needed money occasionally. Sound familiar?
The surprise came when my mom wrote back to me. I guess I need to explain that my mother was a former college professor and very picky about grammar, so when I opened her very thick letters, I realized my previous letter was enclosed. I couldn’t imagine why she had returned my letter until I unfolded the paper and looked at it. She had gone over it and corrected all my grammar and spelling errors and marked them in red pencil!
Some college kids might have been aggravated by that. Not me. Once I realized what she did, I thought it was so funny it made me laugh out loud. That was my mom, all right. Bless her heart; she was a teacher through and through. Even from a thousand miles away, she was trying to help me.
As I look back on that time in my life, I am so grateful she took the time and effort to go that extra step, odd and insignificant as it seemed at the time. It really made me conscious of grammar and spelling and has made me aware to this day, many, many years hence. In fact, I think I have “become my mother” in that regard. I’m a real stickler, but that trait has helped me since I decided I wanted to be a writer. I still make mistakes, but I try to look things up if I’m not sure about them.
What influenced you to learn correct grammar? Was it memorable? Lasting, like mine?
Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join here here each 11th of the month.