While I know I covered myself with the disclaimer on the home page indicating that all fromthebottomup.net writings are solely and exclusively my opinions, I doubt I’d get much argument stating that Jane Frances McCann Whitaker was one of the greatest mothers of all time. Certainly the most beautiful. Certainly the most generous.
And, when I speak of generosity, I speak not of monetary gifts, but of gifts from the heart, gifts of knowledge and gifts of humor. Every day – and I do mean every day – I find myself mimicking something she said or did or, better yet, trying to model myself after the way she did one thing or another. The older I get, the more I aspire to be the woman she was.
Another one of mother’s most wonderful gifts that we uncovered unfortunately after her death were a stack of letters that she had written to former family caretaker, nanny and friend in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, Mrs. Derstine, and her daughter, Joy. These letters were written at least once a year to update Mrs. Derstine on the status of each of the children, for whom she had so lovingly cared, and, as an added benefit to us, the letters also provided an amazing glimpse into mother’s mindset as to how and what she was thinking about each of us at various stages throughout our lives.
The letters were very insightful, often surprising and always heartfelt. Many brought tears to our eyes – some more than others – as we learned the pain our struggles caused her. But, in each letter, with every word, her love was was ever-present.
It was one letter in particular, written on October 1, 1973, that made me realize I needed to somehow catalogue her amazing feats and our life together as a family. In this letter, Mom talked of her desire to write a book about the family she so loved. Yet, it was the constant care and nurturing of this family that kept the book from ever being written.
My enthusiastic yet humble hope is that through a collection of memories, captured in blog posts, and perhaps expanded theories and conversations about the letters mother wrote throughout the years, a book or at least some type of compendium might take shape. It is the least I feel I can do for a mother who did so much for us.
Stay tuned for future posts in the weeks ahead.
In the interim, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. As always, we are thinking of you.