Monday, April 30, 2012

Broken Dreams, By Evelyn Watson

I love Evelyn’s reflections on aging. They are so personal and insightful. It’s something we often avoid thinking about, yet the reality is that each of us must face the changes that aging brings to our minds and bodies. What do you think of Evelyn’s approach? Is there encouragement here?

The Lord is near those who have a broken heart.

Psalms 34:18

 According to the enveloping apparel of my body I’m no longer considered young, yet secretly I don’t believe I’m really the age of the loose fitting, un-ironed, blemished covering I’m beginning to wear. Perhaps a little worn but still plenty of wear left, I tell myself. I have never thought I was old. I realize I have aged but certainly I can’t be considered old.

 Regardless of the amount of years I may accumulate I shall not be old until not only my strength is gone but my mind no longer allows me to think myself young. Limitations shall not make me old for the young suffer those also, although the aged suffer them more. We all suffer illness and disease, handicaps and loneliness regardless of age.

          Being old becomes a battle in our minds watching and dealing with the changes taking place in our bodies. And as we struggle with unfulfilled dreams we realize will never materialize and when hope of those dreams begin to fade from our thinking, then, we will wake up one day and know that we are old.

 Changes are happening in my body and yet the health I am still blessed with gives me the strength and mind to continue believing I am young. I like who I am better than when I was younger and the peace that abounds within my soul I wouldn't trade for the look of youth. Some things that come with aging make it easier to accept. I accept my outside worn look because I like the new look inside. Aging has brought some good changes as well as those I don’t consider to be an asset.

It’s those broken dreams that have bothered me. Being the idealist I am, I found it hard to let them die when I know realistically they won’t come to pass. They’ve lurked in the shadows of my mind and when I thought they were gone I found they were still there, and then the struggles of letting them go once again becomes my challenge. I am convinced I will carry some of them to my grave before I am free of them but perhaps the struggles with them keeps me young, because should I let them go I would certainly be old. Yet, like broken shells upon the shore remains of life once lived, my broken dreams give tribute to my life and shall be reminders of the person I know I really was.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

RED IS, by Yolanda Adele

After reading the wonderful book, Hailstones and Halibut Bones, Adventures in Color, by Mary Le Duc O’Neill, several writers took up the challenge of writing about color. Here is Yolanda’s tribute to “red.”  Do you think, as I do, that she created a vivid snapshot of a bright red moment?

Red is: Loud, not to be ignored;

   Red is: Bold like the bull-fighter’s defiant pose;

Red is: Glowing eyes of the bull;

  Red is: The satin of the matador’s cape;

Red is: Sand wet with blood;

Red is: Scent of roses, a sultry senorita throws in the bull ring;

Red is passion that smolders to be


Monday, April 23, 2012

Coffee and Cookies, by Cynthia Hampton

Today’s post is from a guest – Cynthia is not a member of our class, but she has written the story of a memory from her childhood that continues to affect her daily routine. Although I rarely eat cookies, I’m an avid coffee fan, so I can appreciate this story and the beauty that some simple rituals add to our days. Do you have a coffee story to share?

I was very nervous about starting school for the first time, because I had heard many stories about trips to the principal's office for a spanking. I was also told that I was never to talk in school, so I was afraid that any word I said would result in going to the Principal’s office. I was not happy about the prospect of having to go to school because it sounded like a place of torture where every infraction would land a child in the principal's office for a spanking.

Since early childhood, if I ever felt anxious about something, I would lose my appetite.  My mother was just not good at fixing breakfast. She would fry an egg for me and it would be crispy on the edges and runny on the inside. I still cannot stand eggs that are made "over easy" and are runny on the inside. Neither did I like hard, chunky butter on dry, hard toast.  Nothing my mother made or gave me was appetizing.  

So I would go to school hungry. I wouldn't even eat my lunch because I had so much anxiety. The teacher began to notice that I was suffering from weakness and reported to my mother that I was not eating my lunch either.

One day I saw my mother eating cookies with her morning coffee. I asked if I could have coffee and cookies too. At that point she was willing to try anything to get me to eat something before school. My mother always had milk and sugar in her coffee and I asked if I could have my coffee the same way. I thought the coffee was delicious and with some Nabisco Vanilla Wafers, I thought it was the best breakfast in the world. I was thankful I could find something to eat that would actually make me feel good.

One day the teacher noticed that I didn't eat my lunch again. She really was worried about me. She asked me in front of the class if I had eaten anything that day. I very proudly said that yes, I had eaten breakfast. Then she asked me what I had eaten and I told her that I had a cup of coffee and some cookies. The whole class laughed at me because I drank coffee. I didn't understand what the problem was. What was wrong with drinking coffee? You would have thought that I had said I drank beer and ate pretzels for breakfast.

I continued drinking coffee and I didn't care that other children weren't drinking coffee. Today, my day just does not start well if I don't have my morning coffee. I may not be having a cookie with my coffee, but many times if I have freshly baked cookies on hand, I will have coffee and cookies for breakfast. With coffee and freshly baked cookies for breakfast, how can life go wrong?

If you enjoyed Cynthia’s story, please take time to write a comment for her. You also might enjoy my earlier story about tea and short bread: here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Z is for “Zest,” By Betty Mitchell

We come to the end of our ABC series with this very short offering from Betty Mitchell. Miss you, Betty!
~ Bonnie

 I have been given the privilege of writing about the letter Z. What comes to mind is the zest everyone puts into their writing. Some write zany things, and some write with a little zip. Sometimes I feel like I am in a zoo. I find it a lot of fun taking a journey into the memory zone with these interesting people.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Y is for the “Young at Heart Years,” By Dora Silvers

Here is a treat from Dora, who is truly young at heart. 

          Yesterday, in our Thursday “Memoir Writing” class, there was yet another yarn told to us about an interesting vacation. It was about trip to Yellowstone, where Mary also camped as a youngster of ten. Now as a grandmother, she brought her two young grandchildren of eight and ten to Yellowstone National Park, the oldest and largest park in the United States.

        Last week another classmate read a story of his vacation in Yosemite National Park, which is located in central California. There were a few young sequoia trees among the large and old trees. Some are 27 feet in diameter and 3,000 years old.

        Another classmate attended Brigham Young University when he lived in Utah. He told tales of his youth during his college days at this interesting school.

        Yes, we enjoy all the yarns of adventure and interesting places that were visited during our classmates’ younger years. Now they are sharing their memories with the younger generation.

Monday, April 9, 2012

X is for “My Memoir Class X-Ray,” By Lewis Hildreth

Ah, Lewis! This fun piece is so typical of your attitude towards life, the class and writing. We miss you.
X marks the spot here at Norwalk Senior Center where, of a Thursday afternoon at approximately 2:00 p.m., students drift into the classroom to form a body of students with a few Madam X’s and Mr. X’s scattered throughout. We are not here to play X’s and O’s, though that may happen too, but to discern what the X unknown is in our respective lives. Yet we will not be accused of X-chasing, for we are here to celebrate our lives in a veritable Xanadu of pleasurable expression, made safe by the King’s X that says that “what takes place in the classroom, stays in the classroom.”

We do not suffer from xenophobia (fear of strangers), nor do we labor under a xenocracy (ruled by foreigners). Indeed, we may be xenophiles (we like foreigners), verging on xenomania (an insane fancy for strangers). After the gasps and denials subside, I do believe I can say that we are usually xenodochial (hospitable).

I know in my case that I could be accused of xenoglossia (the faculty of using intelligibly a language one has not learned) because I am still learning English. I have come to love to read books. I read whenever I get a spare moment. I read the dictionary. I read the phone book. I read junk mail. I read and read. I would read xylographic books (books printed from engraved wood blocks) if I had them, and I would read engraved wooden blocks, not caring if I were accused of xylophory (wood carrying).

It is probably in our X chromosomes, the strange bibliophilic gene that causes us to read and write. I can only repeat that X marks the spot here at the Norwalk Senior Center.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

W is for “Welcome to Writing,” By Jeanne Seldon

Jeanne was only able to be a part of our class for a short time, but her presence was definitely “welcome.” If you go back to the very beginning of this ABC story list, you will find that Jeanne wrote our delightful introduction.  Re-read that post here: ABC's
What this senior writing class has meant to me is a wonderful opportunity to write. I first wandered into the class in May, 2006, to deliver a birthday present to my stepmother, Barbara, who had given me directions where to find her at the Norwalk Senior Center between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Thursdays. The location was on my way to pick up my husband from work at the nearby mental hospital. When I arrived, the class was enjoying their break by celebrating a birthday with cake and friendly laughter. I was warmly welcomed by class members and the teacher, Bonnie Mansell, who, without waiting, immediately invited me to join the class.

WOW! I was a little worried that it might not work out for me, since I had always wanted to write about important memories, but I somehow never wound up finding the time to write. I had retired from teaching the previous year, but still had not written a single word. My friends think I am a little weird because I love to write and they would rather just read. “What have I got to lose?” I thought. “Why not?” This is my chance to work writing into my schedule. I went back to class the next week and I have returned almost every week thereafter.

What I discovered in this writing class was a worldly group of wise and witty writers, who willingly share their written work without worry as they weave the important experiences of their lives into wonderful words, worthy of preserving for future generations. When I write pieces for class, I wonder whether my writing seems too woeful or wistful, too wacky or wild, too wordy or wishy-washy, or maybe just my worst writing ever. Yet, my efforts are always welcomed by the other wonderful writers in the class as worthwhile and well-done.

Writing has become a good habit in my life now, and I find myself wondering what will be my next topic. I welcome the weekly opportunity to write with feedback from the class, and I just wish I had more time to write. I want to thank the other writers in the group for their warm welcome to class. I can’t wait to write more next week! This class is WONDERFUL!

Monday, April 2, 2012

V is for “A Valued Class of Vintage Memoirists,” By Randy Brandemihl

Just a week or so ago I posted “T is for Teachers,” by Judy Brandemihl. Today I post a very short piece by her husband, Randy, who was an active member of our group for many years. After Judy’s illness and passing Randy’s own health issues became more apparent and it was only about a year later that he followed her in that path that leads from this life. I am blessed to have known this couple, who added to my life, as well as to our group. And it is an encouragement to realize that the “vivacious” members of our class were able to help Judy and Randy to savor their “vintage” years.

My senior memoir class is a very special group of people. The variety of their vivid backgrounds is one of the very things that make them valuable. Their vintage years and vivacious friendship is the very thing that binds us all together.

In the very beginning, we all came here seeking a variety of pleasurable pastimes, such as humor, knowledge, companionship and, of course, memoir writing.

Of that goal I feel, without a doubt, that we have all vanquished a darkness and found a very fine and victorious bright day.

Viva la Vida!!!