A Facebook friend has been asking a “Question of the Day.” Yesterday, he asked this:

Who is your “I’ve never met you and likely never will” mentor?

I realize more and more how much of a mentor my mother was for me. She was, above all the other things, a caregiver. Obviously I’ve met her, though. I just didn’t appreciate her enough in that role.

The thing is — a caregiver’s mentor is never going to be in any spotlight.

She’s going to be home, quietly doing mundane tasks.

She’ll find her strength and solace in an abiding relationship with God.

She’ll be able to count on one hand her closest friends, but will still have a wider circle of loved ones, people she cares deeply about and who care deeply about her.

However, most people won’t even be aware of half of what she does.


The other day, at Cooperstown’s Antiquarian Book Fair, I found a treasure that comes close to finding my mentor.

I found a Book of Common Prayer with a name imprinted on the front: Rachel Ware Fuller.

Inside, the inscription told me that the book had been a gift from her son.

And then, there were pages and pages of handwritten notes.

I thought I had found the treasure I’ve been searching — a mother’s spiritual summation, all the things she has learned through parenting and wifing and friending and living. This would have been the mentor I never met and never will.

However, further inspection showed the notes to be from a Samuel Clark Harbinson, an Episcopal rector at a New England church. I’m not sure how the book was transferred from Rachel Fuller to him, but it was. Another inscription revealed that.

His notes are fascinating. And challenging. And thought-provoking.

Someday though, I hope to find a well-worn book with the margins and flyleaves full of notes written by a caregiver. I want it to have a coffee spill on a page or two, and ink smeared by tears on many pages.

And notes. Lots of notes.

I’ve already started accumulating a collection of other people’s journals and some religious books with notes in the margins.

But I’ll keep looking, at book sales, and in book boxes, for this Holy Grail of books.

That’s where I’ll find my mentor.

4 thoughts on “Mentor

    1. Here’s the way I see it:

      Never write in a book that doesn’t belong to you. That includes library books, borrowed books, and rented books.

      However, if you have a book that you love, and go back to it over and over and over again, so much so that it becomes a friend — by all means, write in it. Jot down the thoughts that strike you on a certain day. Date it. Underline in it. Doodle in the margins. It’s a friend, now, and it certainly doesn’t mind.

  1. The right thing will simply present itself when the time is right if you remain open to the possibility. I am certain of this. I have no special powers (though you must never tell my daughters that) but I am certain. That the right thing simply will. And yes there will be tear stains and splotches even if you can’t see them.

  2. This is one of the reasons I love blogs – it is capturing these stories today. Looking to the past, I remember clearing my Grandmother’s house after she died and finding my grandmother’s “Catholic Girl’s Guide” and my grandfather’s mother’s “Treasure of Pious Souls” books – both of which served to collect family clippings and such through their lives. I still have them on a shelf – it’s not a journal, but still a glimpse.

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