Sunday, May 10, 2020

Happy Mother's Day - Across the Sea and Around the World

-- Susan, Every Other Sunday

Since I have the honor of holding the field on what is unquestionably a difficult Mother's Day for many of us (and for different reasons, many but not all of which have to do with the current COVID-19 crisis) I'm going to lean way into the moment and tell you a little bit about my wonderful mom.

Mom in Ireland, 2017

But first, I have a confession to make.

When the COVID-19 crisis struck, I cried terrified tears--but not because I was afraid that I might get sick or die.

I cried because I was afraid that I might never get to hug my mom again. Because, you see, my mom lives thousands of miles away, on the far side of an ocean--so far away that we live our lives in different calendar dates. Given my visa situation, I'm still not sure when I'll be able to see her in person and hug her again (though I feel both blessed and privileged to know that, at least so far, I do have that option, and I am aware that many people don't). I hope it's soon.

This is not her home . . . but she might live there if she had the chance .

But since I cannot be with my mom on this Mother's Day, I'm going to tell you a little about the woman who helped make me who I am today.

Mom and me, heading to a writers' conference in 2016

When I was little, long before the days of ready-made costumes and Disney stores, my mom sewed me a perfect replica of Snow White's dress from scratch--and played the role of the prince in countless re-enactments--so that I could make believe I was a princess. Thanks to that gift, I have a vivid imagination and believe that I have worth.

When I was in preschool, she taught me to read, so that books could open worlds for me. Thanks to that gift, I have never been alone, and I can escape from reality when life becomes too much for me to handle.

When I was in high school, she encouraged me to write fiction--and to query agents about my first (admittedly TERRIBLE) manuscript. Thanks to that gift, I had the confidence to pursue my dream of writing stories of my own.

When I was a recent law school graduate, struggling to pay off student loans, start a career, and raise a child, she paid for me to attend a writer's conference every year to ensure that my dream of becoming a published writer did not wither on the vine.

Mom and me at Niagara Falls after Bouchercon 2017

When I turned 40, and was terrified of traveling alone, she gave me an airplane ticket to Japan--and with it, the opportunity to face and begin to overcome my fears.

When I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, she not only helped take care of me during my surgery and recovery, but traveled with me to Japan (during my chemotherapy treatments) to help me apply for the visa I needed to begin my 100 Summits journey.

At Hamarikyu Gardens, Tokyo, March 2017 - halfway through chemotherapy

When I moved to Japan the following year to climb the 100 summits, she bravely and selflessly supported my decision . . . even though it took me far away from her.

Six months later, she came to Japan and--at the age of 75--climbed not one but two mountains with me.

Mom and me on the summit of Mt. Inari, Kyoto

One of which was Mt. Fuji.

Team Fuji 2018: Laurie Bolland, Kaitlyn Bolland, some half bald weirdo, and my mom

I have seen, done, and achieved many things, and am living a life that feels unusually privileged and blessed--but I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I owe a substantial portion of those blessings and experiences to the constant love, support, and strength of the best and most dedicated mother any person could ever have the good fortune to call her own.

There are many wonderful moms in the world, but this one is mine.

Her life has not always been easy, but it is a shining example of the way I want to live my own--with kindness, strength, compassion, love, and the desire to help those around her live their best lives.

More than once, she has told me "all I wanted was to be the best mom that I could be."

Mom, you've done so much more. You are the best mom anyone could be, and I wish everyone could have a mom as wonderful as you.

Mom and me on Mt. Fuji, 2018

Today is difficult for many of us--either because we cannot be with our mothers (for various reasons) or because some people's relationships with their mothers make today more a painful reminder than a celebration. If you're in that camp, I send you love.

And now, I hope you'll share something you love about your mom--or another woman who has made your life special and made you feel loved. Who helped you become the person you are today?


  1. Wonderful post, Susan. My mother instilled a deep and lasting love of the African bushveld in me that has brought much joy. She gave me many other gifts, but this one reminds me of her always.

  2. What a great mom! I hope she sees this today. My mother also never doubted that my love of books could become a career. Here's to all the supportive moms and guardians!

  3. My mother was often scared of what would happen to me as I became involved in the anti-apartheid movement. She would explain the possible consequences, but then always let me make my own deci9sions. Brave and sensible woman. Thanks, Mum.

  4. I shared memories of my mom here yesterday; today I share in your portrait of love -- daughter to mother -- realizing no parent can read it dry-eyed, for it reflects such honor to your mother for being just that, YOUR MOTHER, to a daughter she has every right to be extraordinarily proud of.

  5. You are so lucky to have a mother like her. She accompanies you through your life and gave you unconditional support and love. Wonderful to read about. I wish you could see her soon, but meanwhile there are Skype, Facetime, etc.

  6. Susan, when I had the good luck to meet your mom at Bouchercon a few years ago, I thanked her for giving us all the gift of you!