Our Mother/Daughter Book Club is very simple: I read to Mom, and she listens. Sometimes, unless she’s napping. But I keep reading anyway because she can surprise me. For instance, on one of my visits I was reading a gardening magazine. I said, “Did you know that banana peels can help a rose bush have bigger blossoms?” Without opening her eyes, Mom said, “Eggshells work better.”
We have three books to post on our Book Club reading list.
The first book is A DAY NO PIGS WOULD DIE by Robert Newton Peck.
The author builds on some of his own childhood as a Shaker to tell this wonderful coming-of-age story about a rural butcher’s son who learns hard lessons about life, death, faith and family. Maybe it was because of Mom’s childhood on a farm, but she was wide-eyed for the scene about the boy removing a goiter from a cow’s throat. There are other very different scenes that affected me even more strongly, but the entire book is a wonderful read.
The second book is MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS: A MEMOIR OF GOING HOME by Rhoda Janzen.
You don’t need to be Mennonite to love this book, or even Brethren, which is similar in many ways and what my mom is. Janzen was the University of California Poet Laureate in 1994 and 1997, and she writes much of her memoir with the voice and gentle strength of a poet. Both Mom and I agreed that our favorite character was the author’s mother, a practical, lovable and earnest Mennonite who quietly helped her daughter heal after a horrible accident followed by learning that her husband had fallen in love with another man.
p.s. There’s A Mennonite History Primer in the appendix for those of you who want to learn more about the Mennonites.
The third book is ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN by Robert Fulghum
Before David and I were born, Mom was a kindergarten teacher in Kansas City. In a short time she had numerous touching, funny, and darling experiences with her groups of little ones just beginning their formal education. Dementia has taken away some of those details, but when I read some of Fulghum’s delightful pages, she laughs and nods and enjoys herself. His list of lessons includes Don’t hit people, Don’t take things that aren’t yours, Flush, Take a nap every afternoon, and others. You don’t have to be a kindergarten teacher to love this book and appreciate the lessons. Mom and I recommend it!