Mother Knew Best


After my mother died three years ago (see “Spare Every Expense, Except One,” October 10, 2008), my sister Lucy kept discovering interesting things she had left behind. One of the most fascinating was a do-it-yourself autobiography that must have been given to her (it was definitely not something she would have bought for herself).

Called The Book of Myself, it is a blank diary with pithy statements at the top of each page that the diarist is meant to complete. For example: “If I had any trouble with Mom growing up, it was in this area.” My own Mom’s answer? “None.”

“This person significantly influenced my life growing up.” Answer: “No one in particular.”

“This is the profession I most often mentioned when people asked me what I was going to be when I grew up.” Mom: “I don’t remember being asked.”

“I kept this secret from almost everyone.” Answer: “No secrets!”

“One big misunderstanding with a friend…” Mom: “No problem people!”

“I regret having burned this bridge.” Mom: “I do not recall having burned any.”

“Of all my personality traits, I hope my family will remember this one about me.” Mom: “No comment.”

The whole book is like...

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About the Author

Jo McGowan, a Commonweal columnist, writes from Deradoon, India.