My mom recently visited us, and she brought presents, as moms do. Several were dress shirts that my father had bought me in some apparent clairvoyant state, realizing that I'd just ripped a six-inch hole in one of my Oxford cloth workshirts, but others were books that Mom had scored herself. Soon after arriving, she handed Kelly an Alice Walker book, explaining that she'd gone to the library book sale in Pittsboro, NC, where the library sells its discards as well as donations from the locals. While there, she discovered that one source of donations was the estate of Doris Betts, who died last year.

If you read this page regularly, you'll know that Doris taught me (and Kelly) creative writing at UNC; in fact, it was after our class's final meeting that Kelly and I made our first date (thanks to some sneaky matchmaking by Mimi Herman and others and a good deal of the Henderson Street Bar's beer.) You might not know, however, that Mom already knew her; back in the 1970s, Doris directed the North Carolina Fellows Program, where Mom was the secretary. And since Doris was the one who had introduced her to Alice Walker, she thought Doris' copy of a Walker book would be an appropriate gift for Kelly.

To me she gave a much more familiar book: a copy of The Verb 'To Bird'. I've actually sold or given away all my copies except my own, so Mom's constantly on the lookout for copies that I can use as gifts. I thanked her and noted that I was in need of one, but she said, "Oh, I don't think you're going to want to give this one away."

I opened the book to the title page and immediately recognized my own handwriting.

130416-221946.jpgIt was the copy I'd inscribed to Doris in March of 2003.

I don't know if I'm happier that Mom found it for me or that Doris kept it for the rest of her life. But I'm not giving it away.

Sometimes when you offer gratitude to someone, the thing you're literally thanking them for may be very small, but the reason you're thanking them is very, very big indeed. So thank you, Mom. And thank you, too, Doris.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on April 16, 2013 10:21 PM.

PC @ L Part Two: NC was the previous entry in this blog.

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