A major life event occurred last week, one that I can’t ignore. My mother passed away after a battle with Alzheimer’s. My mom wasn’t the bake-cookies-for-PTA-meetings type of person. She was a journalist and performer, in some form or fashion, for her entire life. She was also my biggest cheerleader who taught me to follow my passions. When I was 8 years old, I discovered the power of storytelling. I wrote stories for class assignments that I later learned were circulated around the teachers’ lounge. Thinking about those stories today, I see nothing special until I recalled what my peers wrote for those same assignments. My classmates wrote about horses and what they wanted to be when they grew up. I wrote ghost stories and melodramatic mysteriesamong groups of friends (third-grade style). I credit my mother with that. She encouraged me to read well above my grade level, took me to get my first library card, and never said no when I wanted more books. That summer she thought it was a great idea when I asked to use her typewriter to start a weekly neighborhood newspaper. In addition to reporting on who got a new dog or how the Oakland A’s were doing, I included (at my mom’s suggestion) a “fiction corner” where I wrote short stories. My mom helped me sell subscriptions and took me on my Saturday morning delivery rounds. Sometimes those rounds concluded with a stop at the local stationery store to buy fresh spools of typewriting ribbon when I wore the old ones out. I kept that paper going until midway through the 4th grade. As childhood attention spans go, that’s probably some kind of record. One of the greatest gifts my mom gave me was teaching me, through her actions and advice, to live fearlessly and with no regrets. As I continue my journey as an author – and a human being – that’s the best way I know how to honor her. Thank you, Mom. I miss you.