Mothers aren't always around in fiction. In 2015 I did a Best of Literary Mothers post, but some books don't have mothers because their mamas died too soon. Some of the reasons for that might be because authors need to cut down the cast of characters to as few people as possible. Another reason might be that their characters need to have as many obstacles as possible before reaching their goal. For whatever reason, there are some good mamas who we never get to see in action.
Here are four that I think are a wonderful tribute to mamas everywhere.
Bertha Shirley never got to meet the irrepressible Anne. But her love for her baby, captured in letters to her husband, give no doubt that she gave Anne a secure babyhood until she passed away, and blessed her with a heritage of love, however tiny. Documenting your love for your baby (or child, or teenager) may be one of the best gifts you ever give them.
(huge spoiler for Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter next)
Mrs. O'More loved her baby so much that not only did she make the beautiful baby clothes with the tiny stitches, but she laid down her life for the chance to save her son from the fire. While he was born in poverty, and his coming put a strain on his parents, they loved and valued him nonetheless.
(end of huge spoiler)
Pollyanna Whittier's mother, who left her family to marry the minister she loved, lived a short life, but I think one she could look back on without regrets. Enduring the heartbreak of losing many babies, she named her only living baby after her two sisters, in spite of the estrangement from her family, and ended up giving her sister Polly the gift that reconciled and healed her heart.
Lady Elliot was described as an "excellent woman" in Persuasion, who helped make her husband comfortable and gave him a good reputation in the neighborhood. She found good friends, and Lady Russell thought Anne was the daughter most like her--which is a tribute in itself to the kind of self-effacing, kind woman Lady Elliot must have been. She looked well after the ways of her household, and her presence was sorely missed when she passed away.
Three out of the four women never did anything splended or dramatic. They just lived. They kept budgets, nurtured babies, endured the grief of losing children, blessed their husbands, and died all too soon. But in this tiny record of their everyday faithfulness, the small, everyday actions of love left a legacy to be remembered.
And I think it is the everyday love, the everyday brave, that deserves most to be remembered.
A special thanks this mother's day to my own mama, who read me so many books, and still swaps so many titles with me. I feel like we have our own unofficial book club, and it is a gift beyond compare.