Mother Knows Best

The oak plant stand is fairly new, but the dictionary is original.

The oak plant stand is fairly new, but the well-worn dictionary is original.

On my 13th birthday, my mother gave me a 2000 page unabridged dictionary. The tome was well over three inches thick and weighed a ton. I’m not sure what my reaction was at the time. It probably hovered somewhere between stunned and totally bewildered. I hope, for my mother’s sake, that I was able to hide my dismay. It was such an odd gift for a 13-year-old.

I did receive other gifts that day, though I can’t remember now what they were. Perfume, perhaps, or a charm bracelet, or maybe some new music for my collection. I know what I didn’t get . . . a bright shiny new, candy apple red, electric guitar. Though only thirteen, I dreamed of becoming a rock star.

I used that dictionary all through high school and, later,  college. It saved me many a trip to the library as I labored over term papers, essays, book reports, and articles for the school newspaper. Remember, this was well before the advent of laptops and iPads.

When my interest turned to writing fiction, it was a constant companion as I cranked out story after story. There wasn’t a day that passed I didn’t flip through its pages at least once as it sat open on an old wooden plant stand next to my desk.

Should this word by hyphenated? Should that one be capitalized? Does this word or phrase actually mean what I think it means? And just how big was a pterodactyl anyway?

As it turned out, a 2000 page unabridged dictionary was the perfect gift for a 13-year-old girl who hadn’t yet realized that writing would one day become her passion. How did my mother know? I haven’t a clue, but her gift was much appreciated over the years. Thanks, Mom!

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