A few years ago, Faith Brynie placed ads in writers' magazines asking writers to
send her their short poems and essays on this theme: the advice your mother gave
you . . . and how that advice worked out.
The international newspapers picked up her ad, and responses flooded in from 21 countries.
When the dust settled, Brynie had accepted submissions from 54 authors for inclusion
in this 112-page, softbound, illustrated gift book published through the small press
Says a reviewer: "This compilation is sad and silly, profound and poignant, fanciful
and fun." Says Brynie, "This collection was a labor of love, and we make it available
through Verity West for anyone who wants to share that love with a mother, a child,
a beloved family member, or a dear friend. These mothers didn’t always give the best
advice, but their advice sprang from the heart. And so does this book."
Brynie writes in the book's epilogue:
OUR HERITAGE, OUR GIFT
I never knew my great-grandmother, Mary Hall, but I'm sure I would recognize her
anywhere. She's what my ancestors in the hills of southern West Virginia would call
the "spittin' image" of my mother. Or--more accurately--my mother looked the spittin'
image of her grandma. Funny, but when I comb my hair in the morning, I see those
same cheekbones, that same mouth, that same stolid gaze.
Grandma Hall's gray-green eyes showed up unexpectedly in my daughter. Time isolated
those two--one from the other--but I believe they know and understand each other
in some fundamental way. Perhaps a likeness of heart and spirit binds the generations
as surely as any resemblance of face or form.
Great-grandmother Alice and great-grandpa Aaron were better known to the family as
Toots and Flip. Flip worked from apprentice to master stone mason over his three
score and ten, paying a high price for his vocation by limping painfully in his final
years under the burden of a prominent hunchback. He plodded his patch in silent reflection,
spitting vile-smelling tobacco in the paths of long-eared hounds and scampering field
mice. From beneath his ragged, black felt hat, even blacker eyes peered out impassively
above a bushy mustache stained golden, like his fingers.
Toots walked five miles to town for groceries and mail once a week--and five miles
back--often through mud and ice too deep or slippery for a packhorse to negotiate.
She tilled, sowed, and harvested two acres of ground with nothing but a pick and
a hoe every year for her three score and ten and yet another score. With the vegetables
she coaxed from fields of clay and shale, she fed three children, four grandchildren,
seven great-grandchildren, and every neighbor for miles. One of those neighbors found
her dead in her garden--hoe in hand--at the age of 93. It was August. The harvest
fell to others for the first time that year.
Toots and Flip never said much, but their gnarled hands, callused with work,
spoke volumes. Flip's magnificent natural stone fireplaces still warm the homes of
the wealthy in the town where I grew up. Toots left a mark less concrete but no less
permanent. They speak of her even today--that tiny, white-haired woman with a will
of steel, equipped with honesty and determination in equal measure. The young listen
and believe her a model to emulate. The bricks of example she laid stabilize the
future as surely as Flip's retaining walls shore up the land against rain, wind,
How rare and precious are the gifts we receive from the generations that precede
us, and what gifts cherished and priceless they pass on through us. We know who we
are because we know where we came from. We know how to look ahead to the future because
we've learned how to look back at the past.
To those who have gone before and to those who will come after, I join with the
authors in printing this book with hope and binding it with love. For that, after
all, is our heritage.
My Mama Always Said is available for $7.99 per copy. Shipping is free. Email your
order, indicating number of copies desired and shipping address(es). Then send your
payment, via check or money order, to