From My Mother's Hands
by Susie Kelly Flatau

Republic of Texas Press, 2000. ISBN 1556227868.
Reviewed by Paula Stallings Yost
Posted on 01/23/2002

Nonfiction: Memoir; Anthologies/Collections; Nonfiction: Relationships

Susie Kelly Flatau is also the author of Counter Culture Texas featuring old-time Texas landmarks such as diners, dance halls, honky-tonks, drugstores, etc., with one common feature: a time-worn counter at which folks gather to eat, drink and share stories. Her short story, "The Well," appeared in New Texas, 2001. Soon to be released (February 2002): Red Boots & Attitude, a collection of works by veteran and emerging Texas women writers. You can read more about Susie and her books on her website.

With a masterful hand of her own, Susie Kelly Flatau has captured the compelling dynamics of a positive mother-daughter relationship within this book. The enchanting tributes to their mothers by 33 prominent Texas women will entice readers to embark on their own reflective journey home to their mothers' arms.

"We enter this world in a state of innocence and hope to leave it having attained wisdom, and in between these events there are two factors that strongly shape our quests—life occurrences and mentors. And so it is that From My Mother's Hands is a work inspired by Texas women who share the intimate moments and positive influences of their first mentors—their mothers." ~Susie Kelly Flatau

This eclectic collection contains moving, personal histories of some of the most influential women in Texas from a variety of cultures and with careers as divergent as astronaut, ballerina, rancher, senator, attorney, and writer. Liz Carpenter, author and former press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson, credits her mother for her rich inheritance of warmth, humor and love of history.

"Mother gave me such a love of those who have gone before that she shaped my career without knowing she was doing it." ~Liz Carpenter

Teresa Palomo Acosta, poet and educator, details her mother's struggles as a Mexican immigrant who went to work in the fields of Texas at the age of five.

"I think her legacy for me will be she helped me become a writer. She gave me the quiet time and she gave me her legacy by telling stories and letting me put those stories down in some way." ~Teresa Palomo Acosta

Lillian Dunlap, retired U.S. Army Brigadier General, speaks of her mother's legacy of love.

"I guess Mama's legacy is love. Our family loves each other, and you don't see that in a lot of families. I've worked with kids who've never been hugged, who don't know what a hug is, but Mama hugged and she loved." ~Lillian Dunlap

This tapestry of memories, photographs and recipes illustrates the powerful influence of the strength, wisdom, and love passed on from one generation to the next. Each story includes the daughter's unique observations and emotions about her mother, describes lessons learned, and offers a profile of the daughter.

Sadly, the author lost her mother to cancer in 1990. She writes that she was inspired at that moment to write this book someday. Despite a rather rocky relationship with her mother, she began to recall the happy times. "And so it is that my mother's spirit traveled with me as I interviewed the beautiful women who shared their stories for this work," wrote Flatau in her dedication of the book to her mother.

Certainly not all mother-daughter relationships are idyllic. But the memories, legacies and stories live on within every woman. Flatau has created a must-read for all daughters and mothers. Pardon me now—I must call my mother.

Check out our interview with the author of From My Mother's Hands.

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