I had the privilege of participating recently in an independent author's book fair at The Litchfield Exchange in Pawleys Island. It was an amazing experience to visit with all of the other writers, view the variety of subject matter represented, and feel the excitement and energy in a room full of creative people. Each of them knows exactly how it feels to be in the middle of a writing project and have to temporarily put it aside to deal with more pressing life issues. They have experienced waking up during the night with a thought that must be captured before it vanishes. They know what it's like to spend time in solitude while transferring their ideas from the brain to the written word. It was a wonderful time because in addition to chatting with potential customers about my novel, Eyelash, I had the opportunity to bond with other writers who understand the struggle of producing a book that people indicate is an enjoyable read, yet not having the capability of readily exposing it to the world, the nation, or even their own state. That doesn't stop us, however. We continue to write because we love the process, and there is always hope that eventually the "big break" will miraculously knock at the door!
Dorothy McGuirk Lewis
in February, 2009
On my last post, I talked about Mom visiting us and how much we enjoyed spending time with her at Thanksgiving. She is such a treasure, and we are so thankful that she is in good health! I'd like to tell you about the Mother of my friend, Kate Jensen. I met Kate through Pawleys Island Women in Business and Coastal Power Women, and she's a fabulous cruise agent. She's incredibly personable and upbeat, and I immediately liked her from the moment we chatted. I had recently worked on a project for a local senior center. Ordinarily, I would go to the center and give a speech about writing our life stories to pass along to future generations. After visiting this center, however, I knew that my usual speech was just not going to work there. Desperate to devise a way for these folks to be able to share a snapshot of their lives with loved ones as well as with each other, I developed a list of questions that they could simply fill in the blanks to capture some of their history. I call it the Mini-Memoir. As I gently instructed the seniors at this center about the project and what we would be doing, I distributed the sheets for their use. Some immediately went straight to the task at hand, obviously taking a moment to reflect and then write. Others appeared confused and uncertain about what they should be doing with this piece of paper. For those folks, I sat down and worked with them to capture their thoughts--even asking the questions orally and writing down their answers for them. During this process, I met the most adorable lady whose hair was adorned with the most beautiful flower! She was so sweet, and was one of the seniors who decided that they'd like to take the paper home with them to give their answers some further thought. When I returned to the center a couple of weeks later to pick up the sheets, there she was again--this sweet lady with yet another brightly colored flower in her hair. I learned that her name was Dorothy, and she was 88 years old. I collected all of the sheets, turned them into a booklet for the seniors, and returned to the center to distribute the publications. I felt that if they all had the opportunity to see the entire collection, they might have more to talk about and be able to relate to one another. Most of the seniors seemed delighted that someone actually cared about knowing some of their favorite things from the past. I was impressed with Dorothy's answers. For an 88 year old, she came up with some snappy comments!
A couple of months later, Kate and I were talking at one of our meetings, and knowing that her Mom had been staying with her, I inquired about how she was doing. She told me that her Mom had been having a wonderful time going to the local senior center. I told her that I had just recently done the Mini-Memoir project there, and she said, "My Mom is Dorothy, and she always wears a brightly colored flower in her hair." I told her that I knew exactly which lady was her
Mom. I'll never forget her because of that distinctive flower and her clever answers to some of the questions.
Kate told me the origin of Dorothy's floral hair accessory, and this story is precious. It seems that many years previously when Dorothy was trying to reference one of the ladies at church to her husband, she had said that the woman had gray hair and glasses. Her husband said, "That describes all of the ladies in the church!" Dorothy determined at that moment that she needed to distinguish herself from all of the other gray haired ladies with glasses, and began wearing a flower in her hair. She was absolutely correct. Everyone would remember her because there was something pleasantly unique in her appearance, and besides that--she was adorable. Dorothy passed away on November 3, 2009 at the age of 89, but I will never forget her or her collection of flowers.
The aforementioned Mini-Memoir sheet is located on the bottom of the page entitled "Write About Your Life" on my web site, www.awriterspresence.com. Feel free to print it and share it with parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts--anyone whose life is important to you. This is my gift to everyone in 2010, and I urge you to use it to capture just a glimpse of the lives of your loved ones while it is still possible!
I wish everyone a blessed Christmas and a wonderful new year!