My Mother, The Closet Thespian

(This is my contribution for the Red Dress Writing Club challenge:  I could have any departed person come and visit with me today.)

Right after lunch, at the front of a small one-room school that offered grades one to nine, the teacher stood reading from Treasure Island.

She acted out each character on every page of that endless tome.

My mother was the teacher.

Being the only student in Grade Two, there was no solace to be had from a fellow classmate.  I looked around the classroom.  My brother, three years my senior, lounged sideways in his desk, looking embarrassed enough to bolt.  My sister, six years older, doodled on a scribbler, head determinedly down.

With all the drama of a frustrated thespian, our mother sang out,

“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest,

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum.”

Students snickered.  They shared knowing glances.  I was six years old and catapulted into a world of dual attitudes.  How could I have such awe for this woman who was my home hero, but who was capable of persisting with antics that put her family at risk of being the laughing stock of the countryside?

Being so diverted by dread, I was challenged to catch and maintain any thread of the story.  I could only see the unfamiliar hand movements, the blocking attempts to introduce a different character, and the strangeness of voice pitched at us with passion.  All the richness of Robert Louis Stevenson’s choreographed words was lost to the indignity of my mother’s antics over good literature.

Regardless of protests from her offspring, mother continued her acting career every day after lunch throughout the school term.  Our digestive processes were disrupted by her interpretive performances of some of the best:  Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, The Three Musketeers, etc.

Dorothy Marie in Jasper in 1926 - Already A Teacher

Just when we thought there would be a reprieve, she’d have the distant library send the punishment of poetry.  Kipling’s “Kim” went on endlessly in a completely unfamiliar world.  Fortunately mother had no access to an Indian sari or that would have been donned, incorrectly or otherwise.  I sat wishing Coleridge could have given “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” a silent burial at sea.   Thankfully, having no high school grades, we were spared the death of Cleopatra and the determined “Out, damned spot” of Lady MacBeth.

Oh, what damage this delightful mother did to this absorbent sponge who loves good literature.

Think of  the harm that was done by giving me a ears to hear cadence and nuance, rhythm and rhyme, timing and tone.

Imagine the power that has been passed on to present only the important in a preciousness of words.

Through all the possibility of harm or damage, one fact is borne.   I would gladly and humbly present an invitation to my educator, my mother, that she come to me in dream and read, any piece of her choice from the Library of Beyond.

I promise, Mom, there is no way in…whatever state you exist…that you could ever embarrass me now.  Thank you for your endless love of fine literature.


My dearest Guides, is it possible to have you extend this invitation to my mother?

May we remind you that, as you have thought, so it is?

Many thanks.  And will you let her know that I am still saving great lines, sentences, paragraphs to share with her?

As we have said, it is done.

Okay, but how do I think about this and make sure she has it:  I just posted her favourite picture of herself on this article.

We have no need to be repetitious.  You were given the greatest capacities needed for any type of transmission or communication.  Rest assured that any love that is thought, spoken, felt or gestured has been given to the source, the involved and the loved.

I know that the Ra Group, with it’s wise and mature Christology does not dabble in trifles.  However, is it possible for me to know how my mother’s soul has received this remembrance?

She’s wearing a blue and green sari and has a parrot that repeats, “Pieces of Eight! Pieces of Eight!” while she’s shouting, “Tom and Huck, have you finished whitewashing that fence yet?”

Okay, the humour is flowing.  No one is going to believe this!  Your credibility just dropped.

We know that’s not a line for this era’s contribution to fine literature.

You are giving me a Grade Two experience, my Beloveds!  Thank you so much.












47 thoughts on “My Mother, The Closet Thespian

  1. I totally love your rememberances of your mother as you told the story I could not only see her but also your face…I had elementary teachers who at lunch would read stories to us during our quiet time before afternoon sessions…I suspect that is where my love of literature came from…sweet dreams my friend.

    • Oh, Charles, why didn’t we think of suggesting lunch reading to mother. Brilliant! Too late. 🙂 Seriously, thank you. I cannot imagine life without that early exposure to the great stories that held me spellbound and forever in thought.

  2. Oh how loved and cherished you were–and how well loved and cherished she was and still is.

    What a lucky gal.

    I now have ‘mom’ envy.


    Seriously…lucky you……

    • You know, Mel, mom used to say to me, “I should never have been a mother.” She was not a domestic soul – her life was people! So she, in her later years, used to tell me how she always felt she let us down by not being a better mother. Can you imagine? I would say, “Mom, you gave me freedom, trust, scope, encouragement, support, widom… So I don’t fall into a kitchen with passion. I’m not starving to death!”

      A friend of mine, Harvey, says, “Put a baby in a woman’s arms and it’s instant guilt.” He told me his role as a father is to tell his adult daughters, who are both mothers, just how incredibly well they mother. He claims that is the single most important job he has to do today. Love it.

  3. Amy, it is always rewarding when you write about my Grandmother and remind me of the many wonderful things she did with her children (including the grand kids). I too remember a day in school. Grandma invited me and, being around five, I was all for it. A boy in the class gave me a jaw breaker and after a short time she had caught him chewing his jaw breaker. Back then, they were huge. She scolded him and made him sit in the corner. Out of fear I struggled and managed, with much pain, to swallow the whole, huge thing. I managed to avoid the same discipline!

  4. Thank-you for this, dear souldipper! I would have secretly loved to be in your Mother’s class. I was weird like that. You bring to mind a conversation I had with my own Mother (the one who shared with me the love of reading). As she lay bed ridden, dyeing of cancer, she looked at me and asked,”What if there are no libraries in Heaven?” All I could think to say, with tears in my eyes then and as I share this with you, now, was, “Then you can read what I am reading over my shoulder.” There is not a time I don’t think of her leaning over my shoulder and sharing these books I read and I read, daily.

    • Leslie, that gives me shivers of delight. What a wonderful remark! It must have made your mother’s heart turn into mush! Yes, my mother was able to read until her stroke at 90. She would often polish off two books a day unless she had visitors or care givers fussing over her. And that was after cataract operations! She would get me to go to the library for her. She had a secret code that she marked on the books she’d read. As I chose books (even newer ones), I’d have to watch for the code symbol.

      Thank you for sharing that gloriously intimate moment with your mom.

  5. Although I love reading now, in my grade school days I wasn’t into it. I now wish I had a teacher like your mom, I’d have loved to have learned “cadence and nuance, rhythm and rhyme, timing and tone”. You’re one very lucky lady to have a mother like her.

    • Yes, I really was blessed. There were times, of course, that my siblings and I considered trading her in for a good housekeeper, though! 🙂 Her interest was life and that did not include domesticity. But, truly, I am very grateful for the priority she gave to being present.

    • Thanks, Alannah. I have had sessions with the Guides where the whole message has been full of hilarity. That’s usually at a time when I’m finding it very hard to laugh at myself.

  6. Awww, so lovely Amy, you always write your amusing tales about ‘mommy and me’ so lovingly!! And then the humor.. He he he.. I keep whipping out my own histrionics in front of my kids, I wonder if they feel about me the say way! Ha ha ha.. And what’s up with the sari? At least, I know that like a Blue and green sari when I think of a gift for you.. 😉

    • Since mom’s on the other side incorporating all the literature she can while she has the spotlight, (!) she’s wearing a sari is in honour of Kim – Kipling’s poem – while addressing excerpts from Treasure Island, etc.

      However, a sari comes into my life in another way. Seven years ago, I found an used sari in a shop. It’s a lovely mauve colour with a few simple flowers on it. I carefully undid all the hand stitches (wondering about the woman who sewed them so evenly) so as to open up the material. The fabric now frames my bedroom window. The window is private so I only needed a “dressing”. I love it.

      • Aha, of course, Rudyard Kipling and the Jungle book that he wrote, sorry it didn’t register with me until you mentioned it here again.. 🙂
        Oh, I can imagine the dressing on your window sill.. so lovely, you know my aunt, my dad’s younger sister sews those flowers on saris and she is almost going blind at 54 and the doctor has warned that she cannot be doing such intricate work with the needles and stuff because that is part of the problem with her eyes.. And imagine a greater part of India that actually survives on handicrafts and homemade artistic works.. !
        It is always a pleasure to read you Amy, so tender, soooooooooo real!!!
        Have a good day!

        • Guess who I’m going to think of when I look at the flowers on “my” sari!! I did not think that the FLOWERS are hand sewn. RACHANA – I just went and looked at those flowers. They are ALL hand sewn as well – including the beading. I am sorry that I assumed those were machine done, but they are not! See what we miss by not connecting with each other in this world?? My window dressing now has an even deeper level of meaning than it had before. I’m going to send Therapeutic Touch energy to your aunt and ask that she be given all sorts of special blessings. I’ll do that every time I’m in bed because the sari is right in my line of vision.

  7. Hi Amy .. loved that story .. especially as I sit with my mother in her final months, days .. who knows .. I can dream of things I’d love to do .. and I can dream of my mother and her books .. perhaps things we missed out as kids, we did due to circumstances .. but c’est la vie .. this tale I loved! Great imagination .. thank you .. Hilary

    • Thanks, Hilary. My oldest brother emailed me after reading this post, commenting how our mother taught us lots. He shares memories of good parenting. He was the brother who helped immensely after our mother had her stroke. I purposely did not say “suffered” a stroke because I’m not sure she did suffer. I suspect she lived in her right hemisphere in a state of bliss – as per Jill Bolte Taylor on

  8. Thanks Amy .. it sounds for all her antics – she knew so much and had so many books, plays, poetry in her … that by making light of it all the time .. you didn’t get scratchy sitting at a table listening .. you could by symbiosis absorb her knowledge.

    You make a good point about JBT’s stroke and the right side ‘bliss’ .. that’s good to hear .. I know my mother isn’t quite at that point .. we have had what I call ‘brain pain’ ie not pain as such .. but ‘depression’ .. but not that too .. my mother has been amazing at coping .. I wonder at it ..

    She has no pain as such .. usually .. fortunately she is peaceful .. just locked in a bed and dreams of being away and out …

    I loved Jill’s TED talk .. and her book, which I have here .. thanks – interesting .. Hilary

    • Hilary, my heart is so much with you! Honestly, dear woman, you put a big lump in my throat. You are being so present for your mom. That love is felt and received right down to the last soupcon.

  9. You mom sounds like the most completely charming and unselfconscious woman. I love that photo too. Is she wearing peddle-pushers. They’re sort of back these days, aren’t they.

    Thanks for sharing another great story. Hope you are writing a memoir.

    • I chuckle at the word, “unselfconscious”…she was so herself that there were times we wished she could practice a little shyness! I think those trousers were hiking pants – styled like ledder hosen. (Correct German spelling?). They helped keep the knee-high stockings in place so wood tics were kept out. She’s wearing hiking boots so I think she had outfitted herself for serious hikes. She told me loved walking and hiking in those younger days, but she was 40 when I was born so I only saw her walking when there was no other choice.

      At this stage, Jamie, this is the memoir. I used to beg Mom to write about her life, but she never did – even though she majored in English…and read voraciously. At one time I was accepted into a Journalism program, but I accepted a work contract instead. At the time, Mom said a surprising thing to me – if I studied English, Journalism or Creative Writing, I may lose a precious, natural fingerprint. She cautioned me to hang on to it. I suspected her knowledge of proper usage of English, etc., stopped her from writing. So many rules. I read recently that an Australian author was told by a prof – “Write to tell the story. Worry about the polish later. Otherwise you may never write.” I suspect Mom was stuck in the edit.

      • Hey even I wanted to ask you if these are going as compilations in a book?! I know what you are talking about, of course, maybe just a little bit, that sometimes, in the need to excel oneself, words just don’t come out as quicker and when you know they are going to be presented for others to see, it is all the more difficult.. 😦 You however, seem to be filling up your mother’s dreams.. 🙂
        Sorry guys, I have no shame, I just jump into the conversations, because you are so courteous, and I am not 😉
        Love you both!

        • Rachana, you are always welcome to comment. Thank you for your thoughts about this. Maybe a seed will grow. If that’s the case, you may have to bring your watering bucket on occasion. No, actually, I think you would bring the sun.

  10. So cute and sweet. We poor children embarrassed by the adults we eventually become, doomed to repeat history. I love it! Your Mom sounds like a real wise character. Thanks for sharing her favorite photo of herself, with us.

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