Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Card's Story

Recently, I discovered a wonderful card in my Mom’s things when moving her from her Beaumont Apartment into their Health Services division.  The card quoted a passage from the Lexington Herald Leader, dated December 25, 1920.  The cards were hidden among her files and memorabilia, a collection of her life time as a public relations practitioner.  Mom told me that she designed them and had them printed while we were living in England.  Dad was an Army doctor early in his career, you see, and we were stationed in Europe in the 1950’s.

The author of the story in the card was Enoch Grehan.  He was not only a reporter at the Lexington Herald but was also a professor of journalism at the University  of Kentucky where Mom graduated in 1940.  Yes, he was Mom’s teacher. She showed me the journal that she kept during that time, filled with newspaper clippings, self-authored poems and the personal insights of a young educated woman.  College educated to boot, a rarity then.

Her first job out of school was as a journalist at The Leader and I naturally thought that Enoch had recommended her but was surprised when she said, “No.”   She told me that actually it was Uncle Bud, my grandfather’s cousin, who was also a reporter there and had networked that opportunity for her.

Uncle Bud was a writer, and a good one.  You may have even read one of his books; The Way West or The Big Sky.  I think it was the former that won him a Pulitzer.  Mom met Bud Guthrie when she and Dad were dating.  I think Bud found her enchanting.  Mom said, “No, he thought I was smart.”  She told me that they had had some fun times while he visited Dad’s family in Lexington.  She didn't share the details but she has a little book Bud gave her, where he jotted funny observations in the margins on almost every one of the 20 or so odd pages. The book is about the architecture of outhouses.  She keeps it in her jewelry box.

Mom and I have always been friends and lucky circumstances made us partners in raising my girls.  But because of her aging and move into health care, this past year has been marked, for me, by this growing intimacy between us.  I love her stories like this one.  Of course, she doesn't volunteer them, I ask for them and her telling, often prompted by questions, is for me like swimming in chocolate.  So my wish for you is to take the plunge yourself this holiday and ask a loved one for a story. Enjoy!