Sunshine in a Skirt by
(22 Stories)

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Having just written about my father in What My Father Told Me, I realize I have neglected my mother and what she told me. This will not do. I’ll try to be brief.

Your mother is wonderful

Our mother’s name was Aileen. Aileen means light in ancient Greek. You might want to file this away as you read on.

For the first 13 years of her marriage she lived the life of her dreams at home with her family. Then in a blink my father’s health failed and she had to go to work. And so she did.

For the next 26 years she worked at a day school. The faculty loved her, the staff loved her, the children and parents loved her, the alumni loved her, the deliverymen loved her–am I missing anyone?  And so it went at the summer camp as well. Always a smile, always a welcome, never a frown, ever. Mother spread sunshine wherever she went. Really, it was not normal.

She took on extra work at home to make ends meet. In the fall she transcribed admissions interviews for her college, an ice bag perched on her head for migraine. In spring doctoral students nodded off late at night as she put their theses to bed. Amidst it all our household remained joyous and fun.

Over the years more than a few of our friends exclaimed, Your mother is wonderful! Sure she is, we’d think to ourselves, isn’t everyone’s?

In her later years she would come home wondering why strangers would start smiling as they approached her on the sidewalk. We knew why. Or why flight attendants more than once chose her, from among all the other passengers, to take home the extra bottle of champagne. We knew why.

Here she is, a widow now, sitting with a classmate’s husband. Am I crazy to think he’s looking a little..sun-struck?

Her challenging life was her glory, and her fate. She belonged to the wider world. It would never have done for us to keep her for ourselves.

If you guessed her words and deeds lit my way in life, you would be correct. The most important thing my mother ever told me was, I love you.


Profile photo of Susan Bennet Susan Bennet
I'm so happy to have joined the gracious Retro family. The basics:
I have a background in marketing and museums.
I come alive when the leaves turn red.
I regret every tech mistake I have made or will ever make on this site.
I want a dog.

Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Thanx for sharing the amazing Aileen with us, Susan, and the joyous childhood she gave you..

    Undeniably there is something wired into us women that seems to give us the strength to carry on despite all, and with good cheer and open hearts. Bless Aileen!

  2. Suzy says:

    This is lovely, Susan, and quite right to give your mother equal time! Now that I’ve met you, I think I can see you in your mother’s face.

  3. Susan Bennet says:

    I wish that were true, Suzy. None of us inherited her amazing eyes, for one thing. Nevertheless this will set me up for the day. Thanks!

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