Welcome back to my week-long blog series with Cynthia Joan Mitchell. Click here for parts one and two.
How have your family's stories influenced you as a mother and grandmother?
I wouldn’t say my family stories have influenced me, but rather, that family members and the life experiences I shared with them have influenced me greatly. Sadly, it seems we don’t recognize the most meaningful lessons from loved ones till they’re gone, but keeping special memories within our heart, keeps them alive and with us in a way. From these experiences, I have learned valuable lessons in how to treat people and respond to different situations.
My father in his later years had lost much of his vision, and suffered dementia. Both my parents had difficulty getting around, so with a sincere love for them, my siblings and their families’ got together, and we decided to build a ramp, clean leaves from the rain gutter and do yard work. With the help of our families, we looked like a beehive swarming with activity. Dad got up from his recliner several times and hobbled to the garage which was being cleaned and organized, and each time he was led back to his recliner and told “We’ll take care of it…you just rest”. I will never forget the image of my father as I entered the house. He was standing in the middle of the room with tears welled up in his eyes as he sadly said “They won’t let me do my thing…I’ve got to do my thing!” My father has always been a tower of strength, and I have never seen him confused or upset the way he was as he stood before me. He needed to help. He needed to feel useful. All we needed to do was put a broom in his hand and the story would have been much different.
This experience has taught me how to really serve others. We need to consider the circumstances and real needs when we offer assistance. Sometimes we do a greater service if we allow those we serve, to assist. Sometimes helping someone feel useful as we serve is the best service of all.
As mother of grown children, and especially as a grandmother, I feel I can make a lasting impact on my family if I keep treasured stories, memories, special experiences and life lessons alive by sharing them. Recording these experiences within my journal is nice, but finding the right time to share these things with my children and grandchildren may allow these life lessons carry on.
3) How about as a writer?
As a writer, I’ve been able to capture emotion within my stories by tapping into my personal feelings. Mind you, this is not always a good thing. I recently completed a children’s historical fiction about a pioneer girl traveling west with a wagon train. I was feeling a little pain from a toothache, and as I wrote the next chapter of the book, oddly enough the main character’s mother had the same problem. Back then, in the 1850’s the dental experience was not as enjoyable as it is today, so her tooth had to be extracted with tools that would make a grown man cry. She ended up dying from infection that spread into her body. The pain that Eliza, my main character, felt from the death of her mother was captured in the pain I felt when I lost my best friend. The temper tantrum I long awaited to throw occurred within the pages of this book. In fact, I can recognize several of my family experiences within the pages of this book as my own emotion swelled within the experiences Eliza faced.