And when the second novel had bombed and I was wracked with fear, I'll never forget my mom on the phone -- she said to me, "I'd love you if you were a garbage man." And to this day, EVERY day that I sit down to write these books, I say those words to myself -- "I'd love you if you were a garbage man." I don't care where she is -- my mother is always there for me.
Let me be clear: All our strength, confidence, any success my sister and I have been blessed enough to receive, those were all watered and nurtured by the strength of the love that my mother showered on us. When I found out the last book had hit the top spot on the bestseller list, the first person I called was my mother. And of course my mom started crying hysterically. She was so proud. And when I heard her crying, I of course started crying. And in the midst of this tear-fest, I said to her, "Where are you now?" And through her sobs, she said to me, "I'm at Marshall's."
Of course she's at Marshall's, still trying to buy irregular socks for two dollars. It was my mother's greatest lesson: Never, ever, ever, ever change for anyone. And her second greatest lesson: That Marshall's just may be the greatest store on Earth.
In the end, my mother died the same way she lived. She laughed and smiled and enjoyed everything she could get from life, most of all, her grandchildren. They were the second great love of her life. When each of my children was born, my mother said to me, "Now you'll understand how I love you."
She was right. And it was the first time I got to see life through my mom's eyes.
I don't miss particular moments with my mother. I can always remember those moments. What I miss is my mother, and her reactions, and how she never hesitated to tell you whom she hated or what she thought, and most of all, how she loved me and my family with more love than one person should be able to muster.
She once said to me, "I'd saw off my own arm for you." Again, not an exaggeration. Just Teri Meltzer being Teri Meltzer.
That love my mom gave me is my strength. It never. Ever. Wavered. It's like the hum of an airplane engine -- it's there and it never lets up and it never stops -- and you get so used to it, it just becomes part of the ride. But you'd know the second it was gone. My mother's love for us never stopped.
It was a constant.
It is the pillar that has carried me everywhere and holds me up right now. Her love is a gift that she gave me. And it is the part of her that I hope I carry with me every time my child or grandchild shows me a picture they colored, every time I say thank you to the valet who parks my car, and damn well every time I drive past Marshall's.
I miss you, Mom. And I thank you. I thank you for teaching me how a parent is supposed to love their child. And I hope you know that, in that and so much else, you live on forever.