“You are your mother’s daughter.”
I have heard this since I was a kid. I have my mom’s smile, nose and eyes (we’re kinda twinsies). I inherited her love for a good beat and natural rhythm (also both play the drums). We are terribly non-observant, although Mom likes to say it’s because we focus more on people and not things (we’ll go with that). We have a similar sense of humor and frequently laugh ourselves to tears. We love random acts of kindness and realize the importance of building up those around us.
And we both have a love for writing.
My mom is a fantastic writer. She gets it from her father, Rodney, which together made the name for my publishing company, Rodney K Press (Kay is her middle name). Mom has always been my biggest mentor. Growing up, she would look over my English papers and offer suggestions for varying sentences, going deeper into character insights and analyzing theme. This undoubtedly shaped my ability as a writer. In fact, I still call on her today when I have questions. I’ve paused my English classes to call my mom to help us answer a question. She is a grammar guru. She always reads over my material before I publish it and offers suggestions. I didn’t send her this before publishing so there is a fairly good chance she’ll catch an error and text me now. From my first book, Home, the line “Where music and instruments beg to be played” was mom’s idea after I was stuck on it for days. (Shoot, do I have to pay you royalties??)
I’m still banking on writing a book with her some day…
Not only is my mom my biggest writing influence, but she has inspired me in so many other ways. Mom and I love to hear stories from all types of people and all walks of life. My mom brought me up on Oprah, frequently discussing powerful stories of people’s resiliency and triumphs. True empaths, we connected with people we’d never met and always seemed to gravitate towards lives and stories that differed from ours. She consistently counseled my sisters and me along with most all of our friends. If someone needed help, they likely wound up on our couch seeking mom’s advice. We actually used to call her the ‘other Oprah.’
They even rocked similar hairstyles.
(how smug is my face??)
No doubt did our affinity from listening to people’s stories bring me to teach in the alternative realm. My mom actually gave me the first glimpse of just how powerful it can be to make a difference in a student’s life. She used to substitute teach, and one day, a middle-school boy told her it was his 14th birthday. She asked how he was celebrating it and he admitted he wasn’t. In fact, he said he had never had a birthday cake. The next day, my mom came to school with a birthday cake made especially for him. She and the boy formed a special relationship during her time substitute teaching and they ended up staying in touch. She later took him to his first movie in a movie theater, Grumpy Old Men, which he loved. She helped him get his first 4-wheeler for hunting and a truck for work by co-signing on the loan. He was later able to buy his own boat and a house. He turns 40 this May and they still text, talk on the phone frequently, and make time to get together.
My mom showed me just how impactful one person can be in someone else’s life.
I’ve realized that my calling is to connect with people in a meaningful way and I’ve been able to do this through teaching and writing throughout my career. This is so much my mom.