Podcast Special: Amy Lyles Wilson

Entered on September 17, 2021

This week we’re revisiting some of the essays and essayists we’ve featured on our radio show and on our podcast over the years. Today, Nashville writer Amy Lyles Wilson talks about the ways she and her widowed mother have grown closer over the years.

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This week we’re revisiting some of the essays and essayists we’ve featured on our radio show and on this podcast over the years.  One of the hardest things in life is to figure out how to deal with change.   Yet, there’s something to be said about what change can teach us.  Many answers are found in the essays sent to This I Believe from people around the world — answers that are as varied as the writers themselves.

I believe in old women who learn new tricks.

That’s Amy Lyles Wilson of Nashville, Tennessee.  Through her essay, we got to know Amy and her mother, Martha Wilson.

When my father died six years ago, my mother, then 79, had already done quite a lot. She had moved from her hometown in Mississippi to work in the big city, even though many of her generation had stayed put. She had raised three daughters, chaired PTAs, volunteered for a host of causes and nursed her husband through heart surgery… What she had not done before Daddy’s death, however, was pump her own gas.

And so, shortly after Earl Wilson’s funeral, Amy Wilson taught her mother how to fill her car with gas.

After we finished she asked, “That’s it?”  ”Yes ma’am,” I said, “You’ll do fine.”

“So I have continued to pump my own gas!”

That’s Martha Wilson, seated at the dining room table in her daughter’s home.  Even though the essay recalled a difficult time in her life, Martha Wilson says she was excited to hear Amy share her story with This I Believe.

“She’s just made me famous in Mississippi,” says Martha Wilson. “All my friends at my little church, they had all gotten up early that morning and listened to it so they had to call me.  My phone rang all day and for a long time after that.”

In the years since Earl Wilson’s death, Amy and Martha Wilson have come to know each not just as mother and daughter, but also as two adults trying to make their way in the world.

“We’re on an equal plane now,” Martha says.  “We’re both grown ladies.”

“We had not talked about that before so I think it’s interesting that you said that,” says Amy, “that ‘more equal playing field,’ Mother, or however you said that.  I’ve been thinking that I hate that our relationship can be summed up by a needle-point pillow, but that thing you’ll see in gift shops, “Always my daughter, now, too, my friend.”  I do think we are good friends now.  That we’re peers, really.  I’m not sure we knew that would happen but the outgrowth of that and the benefits have been really life affirming and life changing for me, actually.”

Amy Wilson says she’s found inspiration in other This I Believe essays: a California woman who takes daily walks to be closer to God; an Ohio mother who works to maintain family traditions despite a divorce; and singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter’s search for meaning in everyday life — stories, like Amy and Martha Wilson’s, that reveal something sacred in experiences we all can relate to.

“Just those three glimpses into people I will never meet but all of those themes resonate with me,” Amy says.  “And that’s what I think the beauty of it is.  It’s accessible and you can see yourself in it, and I do think there’s incredible power in sharing your story with others.”

We all have to deal with change.  The trick is to find the blessing in the changes we face, and hearing stories like this can help us do just that. Your support of This I Believe makes it possible for us to bring you these stories through this podcast, as well as on our website, on the radio, and in our books.

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