Today is the 83rd birthday of my mother, Janet McCray House King. She was born in rural Rhode Island and raised on a poultry farm. Her mother often went days without speaking a word and her father left one day, when my mother was a teenager, and never came back.

She married my father on August 28, 1951. He had two children from a previous marriage and I was born on July 19, 1952. She bore five more kids.

Mom was never one for small talk. She played the piano:”Lola,” “I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” Rachmaninov’s “Prelude in C Sharp Minor.” She bought me books: The Secret Garden. The Wind in the Willows. The Velveteen Rabbit. There’s a longer version, but the short version is that I put her through hell with my drinking and then she got it together to contact a counselor, staged a family intervention, and in 1986 more or less saved my life.

Thanks for accepting me as I am, Mom–and, forever, for the books.



  1. Bonnie Blythe says: Reply

    Happy happy birthday to Janet, a very lovely woman.

    Dear Heather,
    I love how when I read your writing I feel like I am listening to you speak, and how you speak as you always did, from when I met you at six or seven or eight years old, with brutal honesty and excruciating brilliance and wit.
    Love always, your childhood chum, Bonnie xox

  2. Anonymous says: Reply

    Happy 83rd birthday and much gratitude to Mrs. Janet McCray House King for giving birth to Heather, such a special friend who has truly changed my life! May this dear mother enjoy the love and protection of the Mother of Our Lord and a special closeness to her Immaculate Heart.

  3. A lovely blog, and a lovely post about your mom. I saw my dad with a 10 year walk with Parkinson's, and I know the pain you describe.

    Follow me back at http://www.kissingtheleper.com

  4. Has one reached total contentment when they no longer remember where they are, who they are with or with whom they traveled?
    I drank and drugged myself for years to forget these things! I moved thousands of miles away to be free of the tormenting thoughts and reminders which occupied my mind. Maybe the suffering lies with the "awake". We are the ones to bear the real loss, the loss of our mother.
    Rarely a day passes I don't think of some gift she unwittingly passed on to me and I am instantly grateful we trod the path together for so many years…. even if it was thousands of miles apart.
    Thanks Mom! and Happy Birthday!

  5. Thanks, Allen–you fleshed out so much of what I was trying to get at…both that I moved away from home in order to find my own way, and that at the same time I am grateful to "home," and all that entails, and wish I could be there, too, especially now! I've come a long way, emotionally and spiritually, and then in other ways my responses and "solutions" can still be so skewed! I moved thousands of miles away, in other words–and that was a good thing–only to discover that I'm simply human–and so is everyone else…

    Thanks, brother…

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