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Human Interest
My difficult mother: She made me hang on all the harder
My difficult mother: She made me hang on all the harder

"Oh, Michelle." Since my mother died 26 years ago, nobody has said those two words with quite the same resonant blend of sorrow and disappointment. My mother was intelligent, talented, highly complex and energetic. Always tanned, she wore big glasses, and her hair was a mink-brown cap. During her childhood, her farmer father woke her every morning at 5 to practice piano in the basement before school, and at 16 she went to the Oberlin Conservatory. Trained to perform, she was hobbled by terrible stage fright. Once she graduated, she never practiced regularly again, and the grand piano in our living room sometimes went untouched for years. She still loved Schumann and Brahms....

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