I determined I’d open 2017 with a gratitude post, but to be honest, and this is no complaint, there were so many avenues I could go, I wasn’t sure where to start. I’m privileged enough to have most of my needs met and most importantly, I have pretty amazing family and supportive community. It was in this, that I felt inspired to say how writing has played a role in winning me some of that love and support.
Years ago I reported for newspapers, later side-lined for an opportunity to make a bigger splash by managing the start-up of a non-profit foundation. After that, a similar turn in the private sector, and then onto the biggest job ever, motherhood.
Throughout those years, I continued to write – scads of your basic business letters and mountains of personal journals. Then Facebook came along. Once in awhile I’d wax on, and on…. and on and fill my status box with a full-page of opinion. I’d get pretty good feedback, but more likely, I’d hear from Lois.
We’d met at a performing arts studio where our kids attended. Lois was smart, an English major and she was a writer. A real one; which she practiced with a business blog. I enjoyed her replies to my status comments – witty and smart. Sometimes, she intimidated me. Not in a bad way, she made me want to try harder. Then she brought up the idea of starting a blog. She’d simply suggest it now and then, until one day after yet another of my Facebook essays, her inner- warrior firmly tapped out the order, “Blog, woman”!!!
And thus a new blog was born.
Lois continued the encouragement through my spotty and rough start. I do know I’m not above some clunky writing here and there. Anyway, she was always very kind about it all and this was just an extension of her amazing generosity and wonderful, thoughtful presence. Our shared connections always gave her the highest marks for decency.
Yes, it’s a cliche’ when I say it feels like only yesterday, when I got that Lois smack-down to work up to something. it’s especially so now, because we lost Lois last October. A brain tumour discovered a couple of years ago overcame her. I was out of town when she passed and I wasn’t able to attend her service. Not unusually, I struggled about what to say to her family, especially from a distance.
I wrote her daughter, Kathryn, a friend also and within that note, I ended up explaining how her mother’s influence affected my life in ways that I’d never told Lois. I asked for permission to print parts of that note here. I thought my 2017 gratitude for writing couldn’t begin without my 2013 re-start from Lois. What writing has done for me over the last nearly four years is inextricably tied to her…
Kathryn… I’ve tried so many times to write something to you about your mother. It’s hard to admit a loss for words, but it’s especially frustrating when you want to tell someone how sorry you are for their losses of such significance…
I want to tell you what a wonderful person your mother was… is. But you know that – and I am so glad about that for you and your family.
I want to tell you how much your mother influenced my life. I want you to know how she actually changed it. I want you to know that her insistence, with that boot to the butt, that I write for real, introduced me to a world I had no idea existed and yet there it was, waiting for me to meet dozens of amazing people who would then move me along into opportunities I never could have dreamed were waiting for me.
Even love was there in that new world. I found all sort of love and that too changed me and grew me up some more.
I would never have found new work that challenged me to use every creative thought I could muster. I would never have found friends that stand like sentries whenever I need. My whole world would not have been so beautifully enforced.
Initially, I think I found it hard to believe that a writer really thought I was a ‘writer’. I was once a reporter, but somewhere along the way, I’d lost the idea that what I’d write in my journals could possibly be readable, or understandable, or maybe even helpful to someone else.
Your mother gave that gift back to me. She made me take a chance by offering a glimmer of confidence that I could claim for myself.
So, I want to say, I am so glad and I am so enriched in so many ways to have met Lois Wasstrom.
I thank God for, Lois.
I’d also mentioned to Kathryn I was certain her mother would always be a guiding force for her family. I can only hope that maybe now and then, she’ll continue to lend a hand to this very grateful writer.