The Mama Chronicles
A beautifully written memoir of a Mississippi woman learning to reconnect with her aging mother
Winner of the 2022 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Life Writing
Growing up in the Delta town of Yazoo City, Mississippi, Teresa Nicholas believed that she and her country-born and -bred mother weren’t close. She knew little of her mother’s early life as a sharecropper during the Great Depression, but whenever she brought up the subject, her taciturn mother would snap, “You ask too many questions, young’un.”
Nicholas left Mississippi to attend college, then settled in New York to work in the hard-driving world of commercial book publishing. Twenty-five years later, eager for a change, she and her husband decided to shift careers to writing, trading their home in the New York suburbs for a casita in the Mexican Highlands. But as her mother’s health deteriorated, Nicholas found herself spending more time in the small town she thought she had left behind. Over long afternoons in front of Turner Classic Movies, she grew closer to her mother, coaxing stories from her about her hardscrabble past—until a major stroke threatened to silence her mother's newfound voice.
Torn between her new home in Mexico and her old home in Mississippi, Nicholas struggled to find her place in the world. She discovered that the past isn’t always the way we remember it, and as the years ticked by, that she and her mother could grow closer still. The Mama Chronicles: A Memoir is a funny and poignant account of a mother-daughter relationship and, ultimately, a meditation on acceptance and what it means to call a place home.
"In The Mama Chronicles, Teresa Nicholas artfully sews together a complex Mississippi quilt of family, place, and memory, that famous southern holy trinity of things that can never be escaped. This is a brave and touching memoir that tells a complex story about the ways the beauty of a daughter’s love can overcome the pain of both the past and the present. "- W. Ralph Eubanks, author of A Place Like Mississippi and The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South
"The connection between mother and daughter is defining, miraculous, maddening, and bone deep. In The Mama Chronicles, Teresa Nicholas takes us on her own journey to discover these essential truths. She shares a primal story that resonates with parents and adult children. "- Ellen Ann Fentress, journalist, essayist, filmmaker, and author of "The Political Lives of Mississippi Women, in Black and White"
"The Mama Chronicles provides insight into caregiving and coming to terms with parental demise, an issue many people are grappling with as the American population ages. There are many books on caregiving, but few memoirs that invite the reader into a personal story. "- Sharon Leslie Morgan, coauthor of Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade
"This memoir is an examination of identity, place, family, and how these institutions shape a person’s experience and perception. Teresa grapples with reexamining her own wounds while tending to the medical needs of her mother who is faintly slipping away as her health deteriorates. What Teresa discovers, and what this memoir clearly articulates, is that the path through old wounds is where one's healing begins."- Danielle N. Townsend, Mississippi Libraries