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May 4, 2021

Mother’s Day Markers

Deborah Goodrich Royce is the author of two psychological thrillers: FINDING MRS. FORD and her latest, RUBY FALLS. As a former story editor at Miramax Films, it is not surprising that she has gone on to write her own novels. A celebrated actress, she has starred in dozens of television series, feature films and TV movies, including "All My Children," Remote Control and Return to Peyton Place. Deborah has had many memorable moments, or markers, in her life --- the most important of which involve raising her children and witnessing their various milestones and achievements. Here, she reflects on the significance of those markers and how they can come when you least expect them.


Mother’s Day has marked my life since the day I was born because it was, in fact, the day I was born. For me, it marks a new year, a time of fresh starts. And that is what I want to talk about with you: markers. Our life is filled with them, even if we don’t recognize their significance at the time. My mother remembers that Sunday in May because she was on her way to a Christening luncheon when she went into labor. Her day was marked by missing the chocolate cake and potato salad she’d been craving. It also was marked by the arrival of her child --- me.

Many years ago, I arrived in New York fresh out of college with no discernible plan of action, other than the fact that I had landed a part as a dancer in a major studio film. I flew to New York to audition for another project, which was a bold move. My mother wondered what I was thinking, taking such a risk and throwing my life into a pool of chance where the odds were stacked against me. All I can say is that I probably was not thinking at all. I had no idea how any of it would turn out, but I was willing to do it anyway.

I arrived in New York and dropped my bags at a friend’s apartment. I took off for my destination --- the Minskoff Theatre at 1515 Broadway. Spoiler alert #1: I did not get that part. Spoiler alert #2: I did not make it as a dancer. Spoiler alert #3: Yesterday, I spent the day in New York taking photos of a gigantic beaming billboard in technicolor lights over the very same doorway at 1515 Broadway for my second novel, RUBY FALLS.


I wonder if a voice from above could have told the younger me that there was a bright future ahead the day I was not cast in that role. I wonder if I would have believed the voice that said, “Listen little one, you won’t get this. Your life will have many ups and downs along the way --- successes and failures, loves and losses --- but here’s a tip: Look up! See that space just above the doorway? Your name will be up there someday. Not any day soon, though, because good luck doesn’t work that way. Work your tail off for another FOUR decades and something good will come of it.”

And isn’t motherhood a little bit like that? I am the mother of two wonderful young women, the stepmother of four amazing adults and the grandmother of six. Motherhood has been the crowning joy of my life. It also has shown me my deepest failings --- those times when I most disappointed myself for my lack of patience or understanding, or for not giving that extra moment a child needed because I was too tired, short-fused or distracted.

Our time as mothers is filled with markers --- the births, milestones and achievements of our children. Their failures and losses are harder to bear than our own. Their triumphs shine brighter than ours. And inevitably, there is the marker that comes when they leave home to start their own lives. As hard as that is for a while, it also can be the marker of a new beginning for us. It certainly was for me.

Over the years of raising children, my writing had been in the background. I belonged to writing groups. I co-wrote a screenplay. I found little windows to write stories. But I never gave it the time it deserved until that moment when my youngest left the house. It was then that I resolved to finally tackle my first novel, FINDING MRS. FORD, and to tell my friends I was doing it --- to come out of the “secret writer” closet and declare to the world my dreams.

Crazily enough, it worked. My second psychological thriller, RUBY FALLS, debuted this week. And there I was, back in Times Square, standing at the door of 1515 Broadway, my name in lights above it --- not as the dancer/actress I had dreamed of being when I had first crossed that threshold, but as the writer I am now, marked in lights for the world to see. Who ever would have imagined that marker?