I did it, Mom

Dear Mom (Carol, as I called you when we worked together),

Today I found out that my book, Drinking from the Trough: A Veterinarian’s Memoir won ┬áthree awards just from one competition. Judy, my coach and editor, took a stack of books to send in to many competitions. She said winners are often announced close to a year later.

Yet here we are, three months after the book launch, and I got word this morning of the three awards from Beverly Hills Book Awards. Here they are: Winner: Animals and Pets; Winner-Regional Non-Fiction-West; and Finalist: Memoir. Finalist is just as good as Winner.

You were the greatest writer I ever knew. I think we can thank Northwestern School of Speech (now called School of Communications) for that, where you got your undergraduate degree. For me, my Master of Arts from the Graduate School (now called School of Education and Social Policy, SESP) helped me.

I remember your starting a writer’s column for a little Highland Park paper, the name of which escapes me-it wasn’t the Highland Park News. One time, entries were slow, so you wrote the most exciting short story I’ve ever read. I wish I could find it. The ending was no less unexpected than a Stephen King work.

I miss you so much. This March 12 will be 40 years since you took your leave. In 1979, there were set visiting hours at the hospital, otherwise I would have stayed with you longer than college spring break. Instead, the phone rang early the next morning with tragic news. It was unfair to lose my best friend when I was 26. When I have a birthday now, I count how many more years it is since your 56 years of life.

I know we communicate. Doing well on my first book I owe all to you. Thanks, Mom.

Love you, “Cara”

“Mara”

Where is my mom? I am sitting here in Tucson, Arizona with Cowboy Joe and Matthew, and no mom. A person who looks like her takes care of us, but where is she. Auntie Margo says she went back to Fort Collins for two Parks and Recreation board meetings, and to do her taxes. Huh?

She’ll be back soon, so I’ll practice sitting on my couch getting fur all over it. That’ll tell her. Oops! I forgot that the house cleaners come the day before she gets back.

She’ll ride Hannah for a few more weeks before starting her summer activities. We miss you, Mom!

Today in Ask Frank

Franklin discusses how, in my absence, the boys have plenty to do when they are not worn out by all their sleeping. As an aside to what Frank says, I play with the cats before I leave for class for the same reason I’ll put the top down on my happy fun car to drive three whole miles. It’s a mini-vacation that clears the mind and makes me happy and positive. If a student in an intense, serious program of study doesn’t ‘have time’ to feed the birds, play with her cats, or put the top down on the car, what does that do to the emotions? Frank knows I’m doing much better since Earl’s death. I’m really busy, which helps. It also helps to enjoy what’s around me. And there’s plenty to enjoy if you know how to look. Like the time I watched a big snail move along the concrete to get back to the flower garden. There were no snails in the other places I have lived. I watched that shelled unit for about half an hour. Snail watching is fun!

Today in Ask Frank

Franklin recounts his near drowning at my hand. Right. The incident brings to mind when my ┬ásister, Natalie, was a sophomore biology student in high school. It used to be that classes would get fertilized chicken eggs, incubate them, and watch them hatch. The problem was, what to do with the chicks? Nat decided, without Mom’s knowledge or approval, to bring one home. Margo was at college, and I was a senior.

Nat kept the chick in a shoebox in the bathroom she shared with Margo. I paid little attention until one day, Nat opened the box and a rooster came out. The last time I had seen the chick, Natalie had it out over a sink full of water. She put the tiny chick in the water. It did nothing. Then my short-tempered little sister said, “SWIM, CHICKEN, SWIM!” I fell down laughing.

When the rooster came out of the shoebox, Mom insisted it was time for the chicken to go. Nat found a teacher who had some land, and ‘donated’ it to him. SWIM, CHICKEN, SWIM! Indeed, Frank. Shades of your late Auntie Natalie.