My girlfriend Maria described opening up a cookbook her mother gave her years ago and reading the inscription. Her mother suffers from dementia. She said through sudden tears, ‘it had her voice.’ She hadn’t heard her mother’s true voice in many years, and won’t again. I remembered that moment when I read a blurb about Prudent Advice – lessons for my baby daughter (a life list for every woman) by Jaime Morrison Curtis. I believe the project started as a blog that Jaime wrote when her daughter was an infant, a list of what she wanted her to know written down as Jaime thought of it. At first glance, the book is the type that I generally find by the bookstore cash register and might pick up as an impulse buy, then I had a flash of inspiration. What if I used it as a vehicle for my voice?
Kelsey’s most beautifully wrapped present under the tree this year will be Prudent Advice with my comments written through out. Where I agree with Jaime, such as item #7 “Make time for the art museum in every city you visit” or #21 “Pay attention to politics” I’ve scribbled “Completely agree” or “this author is a genius” or added a line of exclamation points. Other places Jaime and I diverge, for #4 “When given the opportunity, wear a costume,” I wrote “couldn’t disagree more, if it’s a costume party, RSVP no.” For the advice about dogs, I added “a dog will always be happy when you come home, teenagers, not so much.” For other entries I wrote about her attributes, that she’s a great hugger or what colors her eyes look best with. There are some places where I admitted I fell short and she should do better than me (writing thank you notes was one example). I weave in family history, that I sang “Jesus Loves Me” to her every night when she was a baby or a reference to the subway train she didn’t want to rush to. The author includes a few recipes, I’ll write in a couple of our family favorites on the back cover.
My daughter is 13 years old and I’m not sure how much more she really wants to hear my voice right now. It occurs to me that this gift may be most valuable after I’m gone, but I’ve always been one who planned ahead.
It takes some time to complete this gift, I’m not through the book but I should make it for Christmas, or her birthday, or sweet sixteen, or graduation (middle school, high school or college). There’s time. For a picture of a section I’ve completed, click to the jump page. Read the rest of this entry »