“Somewhere in the years of knowing Byrne, she had become my other mother, fearless and larger than life. I couldn’t have explained to the doctor or anyone when or how it happened any more than I could pinpoint the first time I became aware of my own name.” — Chapter 42 “The Other Mother: a rememoir”
I may never remember the exact moment I found an Other Mother in Byrne Miller, but I will always remember the moment I realized that all women, instinctively, get it. It happened last night, at the first ever “Other Mother Soirée.”
My friend and fellow writer Barbara Kelly had the idea to combine a celebration of my memoir about Byrne and a tribute to the other mothers in all our lives.
Her soirée invite list started with her own Other Mother – Betty Tenare. In the same way Byrne added me to her collection of daughters, Betty befriended Barbara when she first arrived in Beaufort and folded the nervous newcomer into a circle of support.
Betty sat just to my right as I read this passage from “The Other Mother: a rememoir” and I could literally feel how proud she is of Barbara and of being an Other Mother. Just as Byrne was.
“I didn’t have to ask what Lillian meant by collected daughters. I was beginning to know the silky feel of Byrne’s favor, the web she wove that made me feel more charming, witty and talented than I did with anyone else.”
—Chapter 14 “The Other Mother: a rememoir”
When we weren’t feasting on chef Jamie Darby’s creations, we raised glasses of wine and shared toasts and stories of Other Mothers. Some were literally shared. Like Casey Chucta’s story of how she used to be jealous of all the people “adopted” by her charismatic, theatrical parents Bob and Roxie. But then, when so many people paid tribute to her father at his funeral, she realized how lucky she was to have inherited an extended family. All because her father was an Other Father and her mother a generous, loving Other Mother.
As a writer, it doesn’t get better than witnessing the way a book can connect people. Last night was my first chance since the Beaufort launch to sit back and revel in the power of othermothering. But there will be more opportunities. Two other dear friends, Andrea in Charleston and Audrey in Washington, D.C., are hosting Other Mother Soirées for me at their homes in November. And my TEDx talk in Charleston, on lessons from my Other Mother, keeps getting more views and likes as the national book release gets closer. Who knows, I may be collecting a few daughters of my own as this dance continues.