Monday, October 31, 2011

L is for “Love,” By Margaret Takacs

Although this story has already been posted, I want to repeat it this week in its alphabetical sequence. I posted the story on May 9, shortly after Margaret ended her journey in this life. Once again, I am humbled to have had such a friend. I hope that those who read Margaret's story will have an inkling of what a special person she was. Her life was so much harder than most, yet she approached each day with an attitude of gratitude, modeling her values through her actions, as well as her words. I am blessed to have known her.  ~ Bonnie 

“L” is the beginning letter of the most powerful world of our dictionary. It covers a multitude of emotions, which can trigger a multitude of events from history and from individual lives.

“Love is a Many Splendored Thing;” so says a lovely old song I have heard my daughter Kathy sing so many times. It can take many forms: love of family, friends, cherished pets, plants, favorite possessions, and foods – all the colorful mosaics of our lives. It surely has taken me to the pinnacle of happiness and to the depth of despair in my lifetime. Throughout the years, as my daughters heard (maybe too often) the stories of my life, they always encouraged me to put those stories down on paper. I don’t know what held me back: maybe procrastination, laziness or reluctance, not knowing how to reveal the tumult of my life.

Then in my retirement, when my physical disabilities started to affect the vitality of my life, came an unexpected pleasure I greatly value and enjoy today. Before that, one of my daughters, Judith, gave me a book to read and record the important events of my life. It touched my cord of resistance, and I thought it would be a lot easier this way. And then my other daughter, Kathleen, met by chance with Bonnie Mansell, and she sort of enlisted me in Bonnie’s memoir writing class, leaving me no more excuses.

Joining Bonnie’s memory writing class brought many pleasures into my life. Her sunny-spirited guidance overrides my occasional glum and my resistance to writing. We have a wonderful company of classmates who become friends while sharing each others stories ~ sometimes with tears of sorrow, sometimes with joy, sometimes with great humor and laughter. We value and enjoy the stories of each other’s lives.

In my writing class I find companionship sharing each other’s joys or sorrows or burdens, and in the process we rediscover that love is a many splendored thing, which can teach even my ninety-year-old heart to sing. Yes, love is truly a “many splendored thing.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

K is for Kindness, by Shirley Mark

It is especially poignant to read stories from our classmates who can no longer share our Thursday afternoons with us. This piece is a reminder of a very special friend. Shirly was one of my very first students when I began teaching memoirs in Downey. She stayed with me when the Downey class was closed and participated in our Norwalk group for many years. Although she can no longer be with us in class, we remember her with love and gratitude. ~ Bonnie

Kindness – the quality or state of being kind; good will; graciousness; kindhearted.

        All of the above reflect the kindness I have felt in the Downey writing class and in this one in Norwalk. How fortunate I was – how fortunate I am.

        Last week I went into my son’s old room, which is now used for anything and everything, looking for a photo. Going through papers, scrap book pages, etc., I found a letter from a Downey student expressing how much she enjoyed hearing about my travels. Next to it was a photo of the class which had been given to me, “in friendship.”

That was and is typical of the kindness that begins with the instructor and filters through the excellent and kind students. Am I lucky to be a part of the warmth, friendliness and kindness of that class? You bet!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

J is for “Jotting my Journey with Joy,” By Evelyn Watson

Isn't it funny how so many of us have a "secret" desire to write? It takes courage to give expression to that desire, but it brings so much reward. Are you letting fear keep you from taking the chance of putting your ideas down on paper? Take encouragement from Evelyn. ~ Bonnie


          I have always had a secret desire to write about my life. I doubt, though, I would ever have attempted doing so without the invitation of a friend to attend the Norwalk Senior Center memoirs class. Ironically, my friend who had persisted in getting me to come to class, stopped attending soon after I began.
        What a joy within my heart to actually be writing and to have the help, inspiration, ideals and encouragement I needed for jotting my journey by attending this class. What a joy to find compatibility among so many who are so diverse in their talents, ideals, and beliefs. Along with jotting my journey stories I’ve have the added bonus of getting acquainted and making friendships beyond time spent in class.
        Some class members are real journalists, while some jargonize their stories. Some are jiffy writers, having stories each week, while others spend time contemplating what they will write next. Some write about their jaunts, others about their jobs. Some write jingles, and some are jovial writers, but all write because they enjoy doing so.
        Every story reveals some part of who we are, and jogs memories from each of our memory banks to jot down for future stories. It takes courage to share some of our stories, exposing ourselves. Yet the acceptance among us helps us deal with issues we want or need to express. We voice our feelings and share our concerns as we join together in common bonds through our stories. We are companions for each other in writing our stories. For me, this is an important fulfillment.
        How thankful I am that my friend recognized in me the longing to write even though it wasn’t something she desired for herself. Just maybe she came upon this group because I was the one who was supposed to be here. And so the years spent attending this class have also become part of my life’s journey story. Could I not find joy in this class jotting my journey? And what a joy it is!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I is for Inspiration, by Lois Tannehill

One of the best things about our group of writers is that we are all inspired by other members of the class. We have come to appreciate the fact that we have all become better writers simply by being in the presence of others who share our struggle. Thanks, Loie, for expressing this so well. ~ Bonnie
          I have met so many lovely people in my memoirs class. We all get along and enjoy each other’s company. The people and their stories are so diverse. They make the class so interesting. I look forward to class at 2:00 p.m. on Thursdays.

        I get inspiration from most of them to write my stories. They help me recall my life experiences. Some of their stories bring me to tears; others bring smiles. Bonnie, our teacher, gives us ideas that jar our memories. There are several in class that should publish their stories because they are so good. The stories the individuals write are heartfelt.

        I am writing my life story for my children and my children’s children. I’m glad that Yolanda invited me to join the class several years ago.