After the Fact: Thanks for the memories


You may not think your life has been exciting enough, different enough or filled with enough wisdom to justify writing a “memoir.” The one I’d written quite a few years ago was less a “memoir” than a collection of short, short stories about events from a rollicking great childhood. I’ll admit, I wasn’t much interested in a class about “writing your story” since it meant changing my “regular” day for meeting with the Golden Girls for our “coffee and gossip” group (an informal thing and less gossip than trying to remember what we did yesterday).

Chris, my daughter, saw the “advertisement” for the class and said she’d really like to try it. She’s an enthusiastic gardener though limited by the resident rodents who have a maze running underneath the entire couple of acres we call a yard but, in winter, she’s reduced to dusting everything in sight (and quite a bit that hasn’t seen the light of day in a while). Thinking she probably would enjoy the writing class, I agreed we should sign up. Though we started at the Senior Center, we’ve moved a few times since (if you’d like to join us, send an e-mail to [email protected])

As it turns out, my child has a real talent for telling a story and has a sense of humor only seen on rare occasion. From my perspective, she’s not old enough to write a few dozen pages, call it a “memoir” and quit. This should be a work in progress for at least the next dozen or so years. And the writing will give her something to do during her idle hours over the winter months, after she’s finished dusting (and cooking, and cleaning, and being a “stand-in mother” to her granddaughter, the ineffable Patience).

In class, we read aloud the homework assignment from class the week before. Some are timid about sharing or maybe not too sure of how to write about what they’ve done and who they’ve known and where they’ve gone. Others are bold and brassy and put it all out there. Whoever reads their memoirs in years to come is in for a side-splitting good time: I can just see someone in Bev’s family reading about her life: “REALLY?”  “Did you REALLY do that?” “WOW!”

I’m reminded of a humorous article written by Jim Mullen a long while ago about a super starlet penning her first “memoir.” It begins, “Hi! This is Snooki from “Jersey Shore” and this is the first book I’ve ever written. And when I’ve finished, it will be the first book I ever read. I’m so excited – I can’t wait to find out how it all comes out.” Except all of the Golden Girls are avid readers and have actually lived a life worth mention. We may not be “famous,” but I’d bet the girls who are writing these memoirs have contributed more to family, community and country than the collected Kardashians or Miley Cyrus or any of the other news worthies on the entertainment section of my MSN homepage on the computer. Unlike some recently published biographies, they don’t blame anyone or anything else for their missteps though they do give credit where it’s due.

The Courier will occasionally run a “guest opinion” on some timely topic the editor feels will be of interest to most of the subscribers. I don’t frequently see copies of newspapers from other communities around the Valley, but I suspect they also feature readers’ additions. Maybe it’s time for someone to have an “open forum” column for seniors. It could be a living history column entitled, “I Remember When.” Wouldn’t it be a hoot to read one of Gatha’s stories about growing up with the brothers Orton?

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