Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Around the World in 28 Days, by Charlene Farnsworth

While we were growing up, our depression-era parents wanted my brother Jim and me to enjoy our young years which were filled with fun and few chores. Amazingly, with such permissiveness, we both actually became quite responsible citizens. In my quest for independence I would not let my parents buy my first car. I wanted to pay cash for my first “wheels.” With such a grand goal, I knew I must be employed soon since I had little money saved. As I confessed, I was having fun with family and friends instead of holding summer jobs.

Pursuing employment at age 18, I walked to the nearby North American Aviation (NAA) facility six consecutive days. It was great news to hear that I was hired and could start immediately. The buyer for whom I worked was a patient teacher and I began to mature and progress. My plan was to work at NAA during the summer, then continue my college education towards becoming a teacher.

This turned into a rewarding 33-year career at the aerospace company and teaching became my life-long avocation. I walked to work or took various means of transportation and, at age 21, I purchased my first car. While properly contributing to the household expenses, I continued my good habits of accumulating some savings for fun or unexpected expenses.

Shortly after my 24th birthday, my parents and I had a wonderful opportunity come our way, a 28-day trip “Around the World” staying in comfortable hotels with most meals included. We first arrived in Hawaii, then visited the following countries and regions: Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Greece, Italy and France. Obviously, in only 28 days, we could not linger long at any one destination. We could simply meet the people, enjoy the unique landscape, and revel in the remarkable history of each land.

Mom and I were diligent in maintaining journals throughout our trip. Mom, being a photographer, fine artist and teacher, poetically described nature’s beauty and the ancient buildings and artifacts. I wrote about the people and their unique customs, costumes and personalities. We both included historical facts in our writings derived from brochures and lectures. The year was 1965 when women usually wore dresses and pantsuits were a rarity. As one can imagine, mounting and dismounting from a camel in such wear was definitely a challenge!

Personally visiting places filled with historical landmarks, where many important worldly events took place, certainly was overwhelming. Until then, we had only been exposed to such places in history books or by attending local in-person narrated travelogues. Sharing precious memories of our spectacular “Around the World” trip has been a favorite pastime. How very fortunate we were to take such a journey as a family at a time when we all were physically and financially able and before many of the places we visited were significantly changed or could no longer be visited.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Love at First Sight, by Gail Earl

When I hear the word "teenager" now, I think happy thoughts, of a life so simple. I remember dances and slumber parties and girlfriends and of course, boys. It was a time when "fitting in" mattered and "cool" was the word of the day. I have nothing but happy memories of my teenage years.

I’m sure at the time I had no idea that my choices then would affect my entire life. Teenagers have no reference or concept of an entire life. They can only relate to a few short years in their past.

When I was 16, my girlfriend Nancy and I were asked to leave our current Art class, (ok perhaps we weren't asked, but told. We just might not have been great at following class rules). We were ushered into another class room. Maybe that teacher would understand us better. As Nancy and I stood just inside the doorway, we looked around at all the other students. I spotted a very cute boy and could look no further. I told Nancy right then, "I want him". I can't tell you now just what it was, but I knew it was real and it was definite, from the moment I saw him.

That cute boy and I have been married for 42 years. We have two wonderful children and five terrific Grandchildren. We shared our teenage years and all of our life right into being senior citizens.

Although my teenage years were filled with fun and adventure, I know that they were also filled with so much more. They were the basis for all of my future. The choices I made, the growth in both mind and spirit, were made by a teenager. Two teenagers that had definite plans for the future and like goals in life. We know how lucky we are. We know that not all teenage choices and goals survive. Even with the best intentions, we know that our story is rare and blessed. (I remind him of that quite often).

To this day when I awake and see him, my heart flutters and “I want him".

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Torn Inside, Beautiful Outside, by Annette Skarin

When I was a teen, a horrible incident left my already crushed soul eviscerated and stamped down to the core. I chose not to have an abortion. When I saw my perfect baby daughter for the first time in my arms-in all her pureness and innocence-my soul once more was touched by the merciful beam of redemption.

One day when my daughter was almost three, an unforeseen tragedy was about to happen. I had just returned with a friend from doing volunteer work at a hospital and the night had already grown dark. I wearily got out of his van, picked my daughter up and placed her on the sidewalk next to a parked car. I reached in the van, got my belongings, shut the door, and turned.

Just as the adrenaline shock reached my brain, I heard the screams! I saw the back tire of the van going over her little body. As if a robot had taken over my bodily actions, I ran to her, picked her up, put her into the van, and directed my friend to the nearest hospital. Her body was twisted and her eyes were rolling back in her head.

When we arrived, I handed her to the nearest attendant, who whisked her tiny body through those huge swallowing doors. Doctors soon came back through the doors-out of breath-and said they needed to operate immediately. They led me to her tiny pallid body, her belly bloated with blood. I stood in the waiting room-a desperate praying mother.

The doctors came out after her operation, and snapped me out of my stupefied state. They explained that most of her organs had been torn in two, or in fourths (liver, gall bladder, kidneys), and some of her intestine had to be removed. They said she was stable and would be in intensive care for a few days. I camped out at the hospital during the day. One morning the nurses told me they had heard singing coming from her room and thought there was a TV program on.

They went in the room to find her belting out a children’s song about Jesus. She recovered quickly except for a large hematoma which remained for a long time. I asked the doctor what her chances of being normal physically were, but he could only reply that he had never seen a child survive an accident like this. She didn’t find out until later in life that her pelvis had been broken in two.

My daughter graduated from college, then went on to an international school to teach English in other countries. She is a vivacious and well-liked person. She taught in China, Thailand, Japan and Portugal. She has done rock-climbing, surfing, scuba-diving, hiking and Frisbee tournaments. Presently she is finishing her thesis for her PhD, at Stanford University. I am so proud. But best of all I have a precious granddaughter, who is now 7 years old. That is a miracle.
 * * *
Note from Bonnie:
Annette wrote this story at my request. She told me part of the story in class one day and I was so moved by it that I asked her to write it down. I am grateful that she was willing to share such a personal story in this medium.  She has limited her story to the 500 word maximum for this post, but the story is even more gripping than appears here. For a longer, more complete version of the story, please see Annette's blog at: carinskarin.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My First Job, by Dora Silvers

I was 11 years old in 1939. Every Sunday I babysat Ruthie while her parents went to church. The first page on the Sunday Funnies was Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie. I turned on the radio and listened as “Uncle Bob” would read the funnies as we followed along. I was paid 25 cents. I learned how to budget my weekly quarter.

Movies were 5 cents on Saturday. Ice cream on a stick was 3 cents. Before the movies, I would go with my friends to the candy store. We would get two scoops (about 1/4 of a cup) of Jelly Beans for 2 cents. Movies were from 12:30 to 4 o'clock. The afternoon included a coming attraction, a serial (usually a western) which was continued each week, Looney Tunes, and then the main feature.

This memory came to me when I learned that Little Orphan Annie will be discontinued. It all began in 1924. These are good memories for me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father’s Day, by Noemi Rabina

In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, proposed a special day to honor her father, Henry Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, who raised his children after the wife died in giving birth to the sixth child. He gathered all his strength, showing his unselfish love by raising successful children all by himself. June 19, her father’s birthday, was proposed to be “Father’s Day.” All over the world, fathers have been adored, respected and loved. More than being bread winners, fathers serve as role models whom we admire and look up to in times of triumph and failures, joy and sorrow.

I remember my own father, Pacifico Santiago, who did not have an easy life while he was growing up. He was raised by his aunt after his mother died, probably at child birth. At a very young age, he worked to support himself and his aunt. He got married and had five daughters. My mother was a stay home Mom in the fullest sense, taking care of us and doing all the house work. Both did not even reach high school.

My father’s dream was to give all of us, his five daughters, a career that will give us a chance to have a better life than what he had. He kept telling us that no one is to get married until we finish college. He was the only bread winner and we had a tight budget on things that others enjoy. But when it comes to things we need in school, he was always ready to provide. He gave us all that we need, not every thing that we want. His dream of a better life for us was realized when each one had finished a career.

Father’s Day is a day not only to honor fathers all over the world, but all men who portray a father figure or act as a father. Grandfathers, stepfathers, uncles, cousins, nephews, brothers, and adult male friends are to be honored on this special day. Greet them a “Happy Father’s Day” with a smile, a kiss or a hug. They will surely appreciate it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day Invitation

Read the new post from Kacie. It will tug at your heartstrings in more ways than one. After you have commented on her story, I invite you to make a comment on this post, answering the question -- what is one thing you appreciated about your father?


If I could go back in time, I think I would choose to go back to the summer of ‘62. It was the summer I got to spend with my mother's parents, Mimi and Grandpa Benny, in Thistle Utah. It wasn't a summer of going places, or playing with kids my own age or swimming at the plunge. But I loved every minute of it. Yet if I could go back, I would tell them both to talk more -- to each other and to me.

"Kathleen, tell your Grandfather to pass the salt please," my Grandmother Mimi tells me during dinner one night. I relay her request to Grandpa who sits next to me and I hardly notice the fact that she has barely conversed with him in the six weeks I have been there. Sadly, it's not till twenty years later that I realize the charades they played that summer I was seven hundred miles from my parents.

Mimi and Grandpa lost their only son when he was ten years old in a mountain avalanche just a few hundred yards from where they lived. When I grew up I often thought this was the reason for my Grandfather's drinking and I thought it contributed to my Grandparents' rocky relationship. I mean how do couples survive when one of their children doesn’t?

I'm not sure if this was what separated them, but looking back, staying in their home that whole summer, I learned nothing about who Mimi and Grandpa were. That was the saddest part of all. They had no T.V. and no telephone; we had plenty time to talk, but neither of them shared too much. I would have loved to get to know them better. If nothing else, I would just love to be reading their memoirs right now.

I have precious memories of Grandpa Benny calling me over and handing me a giant Hershey bar and telling me "not to tell my Grandma." Another time Mimi and I were sitting out on the front porch when one of her neighbors she didn't care for came over and asked, "What ya doing Anna?" My Grandma quickly replied, "Oh, we're going to town with Benny." Only I distinctly remember Mimi being upset with Grandpa and her asking me to relay a message to him saying we would not be joining him. I thought this was hilarious at the time.

I know life is cruel at times but I wish I had been enlightened that summer and explained a few things about life. Would I have understood? probably not. Maybe it was better that way. I don't know. All I know is that I know of very few married couples who get along; not my Grandparents, not my parents and not me and my ex. I just wonder how my kids and their spouses will fare. I really couldn't tell you right now because none of my four kids plan on marrying in the near future.........

Monday, June 14, 2010

Why I Write, by Bonnie Mansell

I write to remember, to communicate, and to understand. This blog is called, “Write to Remember Your Stories” because I have found writing to be the best tool I have for accessing memories which seem to have long-ago disappeared. I don’t have a razor-sharp memory. I am always so impressed when someone starts talking about something that happened (whether it was yesterday or 50 years ago) and they can remember details which I probably would not have observed in the first place.

This lack of observation can be embarrassing, especially because I am supposed to be teaching others how to write. So sometimes I sit down with a blank sheet of paper and start writing bits and pieces of disconnected thoughts about a person, a place, or a time in my life. Though I’ve been doing this for ever-so-long, I still lack the confidence that it will come together in a clear story or memory. And, to be honest, it doesn’t always work. But when it does I am still startled by the realization that I remember far more than I thought I could. A word, a name, a color or a fragrance will come drifting back to me, and I know that all is not lost.

I also write to communicate what I have observed about the world. I am like the photographer who takes pictures, not only because the subject of the photograph is beautiful or interesting, but also because she wants to show this beauty to her world: “Look! Isn’t this amazing? Come look at this!” Few of my thoughts are particularly original or creative. I’ve simply noticed something – a breathtaking panorama, broken people making devastating choices, teenagers holding hands in a circle of prayer, or powerfully written-words on a page. I feel compelled to show this to someone, hoping they will see what I have seen: the beauty, the sadness, or the connection with a larger truth. This is certainly the link between my passion for writing and my enthusiasm for teaching.

Finally, but probably most often, I write to understand. Writing helps me clarify my thoughts about a book, a sermon, or a set of circumstances. I write to figure out what is true, what makes sense and what doesn’t. I write to discover what I know or need to know. I write out prayers and scripture verses. I’ll never reach full understanding of many of the things I struggle with, but thinking hard enough to squeeze the thoughts out of my brain, through my fingers, and onto the page, trying to form some sort of coherence on paper, forces me to discern between emotions and truth. Writing helps me to keep a “big picture” perspective on life. In fact, it was the desire to understand my own reason for writing that motivated me to attempt this post. It is woefully inadequate, but the act of writing it out has helped me to get a better grasp on why I write.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why We Write, By Noemi S. Rabina

After watching on TV the events that took place during WW II in the Philippines under Japan, 1941-1945, my four sisters and I started our unending recollections of our experiences. We decided to put them in writing to let our children and grandchildren know how we survived the war. The place we called our home was in Laguna. Pictures alone can not reveal our feelings, emotions, love and joy with the people that crossed our way.

We write about the beautiful place that God has created for us to enjoy. The mountain high, the rolling hills and forests that we have traveled, the flowing river, the spacious sky and the heavenly bodies that slowly traveled across the firmament before our eyes. We write about the fragrance of the orange blossoms and gardenia that surrounded us, the rainbow colors of flowers in the garden and those that decked our pathway, the orchids that hang on the branches of trees. We write about our friends, their love for us and their hospitality.

We write about the circumstance that brought our family to live close together, our fears, our work and play, our travel on foot for one hour to go to church and worship with Christian friends in town. We write about our fellowship with the young people, our laughter, our love for each one like brothers and sisters.

We write about the young men who tried to win my sisters’ hands. In those days, romance was just looking at each other, no holding hands, no kissing, and no dating. We write about the way young men woo their beloved by serenading at night, usually when the moon is bright. The one they named in their song would open the window to thank them.

We write about the industry that we have learned; such as weaving mats, bags and hats which were an added source of income. We write about the little business that my mother started, baking native cakes that we sold to the village folks. We write about our poultry. We write about the fish traps that my father set by the river bank. We write about the mini school that my sister started with the pre-school children who learned ABC.

We write about our Japanese friends who have been nice to us and taught us their language and songs. We write about the “Bamboo Army” to protect us from invaders and the “radio taizo” to keep us physically strong. They gave us products from Japan and we gave them fruits from our trees and garden.

These memories of struggle for survival during the Japanese occupation led me to write our experiences. Once started, ideas kept flowing. I am an inexperience writer and what comes to mind, I write. Going to a Memoir Class helped me a lot.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why I Write , by Evelyn Watson

There is the challenge of expressing myself in the amazing world of linguistics which I find exhilarating, fulfilling, and pleasurable. Words are ever as much revealing as I and the English language as confusing, a challenge that intrigues me to write. I find words speaking to me as time passes when writing poetry- keys unlocking mysteries, and at times a spiritual experience of knowledge beyond my wisdom when writing letters. My Inspiration gives way to poignancy; through the writing process and I am able to re-live again experiences by writing them as though viewing a photograph.

Beyond that, writing lets me search and draw from the deep well within to discover myself, shining a light on who I am, challenging me to review my character, and giving my feelings expression through that powerful venue through which I become lost in time. Journaling pent-up emotions, anger and guilt, failures and disappointments, voiced silently by pen, yet, mighty as the sword, release me of their bonds. Equally, feelings of happiness and joy, accomplishments and successes bring smiles within when I see them penned realizing I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind, as God proves his perfect will for me.

Writing encompasses an enormous other world of which I know little about, yet, endeavor to enter into at the risk of being made a fool. Words paint a picture of who I am writing my memoirs, not to leave a mark or be recognized of others, but of whom I find myself to be through the revelations of that never ending source- my eternal soul. I recount and remember who I was yesterday and write of who I am today, witnessing God's goodness.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why Do I Write?, By Yolanda Adele

I’m the historian of my life. Writing is the vehicle I take to journey within myself. When I write in the quiet of the night it is as though I’m having a conversation with my soul. That is when my writing flows. I don’t worry about grammar or syntax when I’m in this level of self-discovery.

I think it was Thornton Wilder (Our Town) who said, “In writing, working is in clay not marble.” This may be why I have learned to make peace with my past and to embrace who I’m today. I continually uncover jewels of special moments that enrich my life and give it meaning.

Bonnie Mansel, our writing coach, once asked our class to write our own epitaph as a writing exercise. This writing assignment left me with a liberating feeling of empowerment, knowing that I had the last words about my essence and what was important to me. It reminded me of a curious fact about our 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson: He wrote his own epitaph and chose not to mention that he had been president of the Untied States. It did not matter to him what others might have wanted said about him. It was his life, his death, and he had it his way.

One day my granddaughter, Jaime, asked a question that I had never asked of myself, “Nana why do you write?” To my surprise I answered without hesitation, “So someday you may know me better.” There it was, in a heartbeat, the answer was as clear as the sky above us. My writing is my legacy to my precious grandchildren: Jaime, Brandon, Moises, Hannah, Caleb, and Sarah.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Judy Brandenmihl
May 5, 1940 - June 3, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"WHY I WRITE" by Kacie Cooper

Kacie! You are so boring! That's what I used to tell myself before I got heavy into writing my memoirs. I've learned I can be quite funny at times and very interesting at others. In America we have a God-given-right-to-write. So why not take advantage of that gift? It's inexpensive and rewarding in so many ways.

Why did we go to the moon? Because it was there? To prove that we could do it? To feel better about ourselves? I'm really not sure, but for me, like wanting to go to the moon, there was always an eminent need to be heard. That's really why I write. I've even learned to get rid of that critic in my head. It has been so liberating.

I've tried my hand at writing stand-up comedy and performing it. Performing it is easy; the writing has always been more of a challenge. But I like that. Like the old saying goes: “no pain, no gain.” But when I receive that first hint of laughter from the audience, I am instantly in heaven. What a high! Not many things compare. And I am responsible for all that; little ole me.

Carly Simon used to sing, "These are the Good Old Days." Through writing I've come to appreciate each new day and that "these days" are truly the "Good Old Days."
If I don't tell my own story... then who will? Ultimately I write my memoirs in an attempt to explain to my descendants the reason for my insanity. To hold their interest I insert humor. But first, I guess because of my ego, I write for me because I feel strongly about so many issues in life: racial equality, man’s inhumanity to man, etc. I want my opinion to be heard and it doesn't necessarily have to be read by others to be beneficial. Just knowing that I have it in print where I can go back and study it to see just exactly how I feel about it is very liberating.
I believe we all have an innate need to be heard. Even cavemen and women wrote on the cave walls. Perhaps we write because we know that not all of us can go to the moon. Maybe we want to move people, make them feel like they've been to the moon and back.

At first I just wanted to be heard, since as a child I didn't always feel that I was. Then when I felt I was being listened to I moved on to writing something that included a moral or something that could elicit emotion in the reader. That was my new quest. Now I continue that journey in my written word.

Through my writing I find peace, purpose, promise and enjoyment. Also it's the cheapest hobby I know. Hopefully when my great, great Grandchildren read my memoirs, they will come to the punch lines and laugh; and hopefully not get up and walk out.