THE BLOG
11/22/2013 10:29 am ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

At the Top of My Lungs: Mama

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Joanna and Jennifer, 1965

"Lace the skates and hit the ice, and stay the course." -- Joanna McClelland Glass, Trying

As a very little girl I would play on the old, salmon-colored tiles in my parents' bathroom while my mother got all dolled up to go out. I had a collection of colorful pencil erasers shaped like animals, and one evening I was playing with these as my mother got ready. I was chattering on and she was distracted, politely saying, "Oh, yes," and "Is that right?" but not really paying attention to what I was saying. I thought I would impress her by counting my erasers, which I did, and there were eight. So I said, "Mama, I have eight erasers." I guess she thought I ate erasers because she responded, "Eaten," less concerned that I might have actually eaten my erasers than that I had used poor grammar to tell her about it. I must have shot her a confused look because she put her mascara down and considered the exchange. Then she laughed and laughed.

I love to make my mother laugh. For years I did a little dance for her at night before I went to bed, hopping on one leg like an old vaudevillian and announcing in a Jimmy Durante-like voice, "See you in the morning with the sunshine on my face!" It never failed to delight her. As I got older we had some tough days in the difficult high school years. If I was feeling generous, though, I could always diffuse the tension at the end of the day by offering that same little dance and declaration.

When I was two years old my sister, Mavis, and brother, Lawrence, were born -- twins. Even with three small children, Mom always made time to read to me. I remember countless hours snuggled up with her as each magical story unfolded. She showed me that words can ache and sing.

My mother is a writer. With one film produced, two novels published and three plays on Broadway, she taught me, by example, that writing requires discipline as much as inspiration. As a child I fell asleep nearly every night to the clack clack clack of her typewriter. To me it is a sad side effect of the ubiquity of computers that I never hear that lullaby anymore.

My mother lives across the country now and I don't see her as much as I would like. This year, especially, I wish we lived closer. There's nothing like being sick to make a girl want her mama.

I remember her cool hands on my forehead hot with fever, and bowls of soup when I had a cold. I can't smell menthol without thinking of her massaging Vicks VapoRub into my chest and swaddling my neck in flannel when I had a cough. If only a mother's healing powers could soothe away a tumor, and I could see her in the morning with the sunshine on my face.

This column originally appeared on parade.com. For more by Jennifer Glass, click here. "Like" Jennifer's Facebook page here. See her Fear.Less. video here.