The Book of Me – Prompt 7 : Grandparents

The prompt for week 7 : Grandparents
What were their names?
Where were they from?
Were they related? – Cousins perhaps
Where were they born, another Country or state/area
Photos
What did they do?
Did you know them?
What was your relationship with them?
If you didn’t know them have you researched about them?

(*If you’re new here…you can find out more about The Book of Me prompts here.)

(*This turned out way longer than I thought and it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Just did a little digging in my baby book, which my mother did a good job of filling out.)

(*Out of respect I’ve always called my grandparents…grandma or grandpa followed by their last name. I thought for privacy sake it might be better to just use first names here.)

I’ve never been real close to my grandparents on either side of our family. The main barrier I think has been distance. They lived in Virginia and we moved to North Carolina after our parents divorced. I was going into third grade and my sister was going into kindergarten. Even though we didn’t see our grandparents as much as we would’ve like, we saw them way more than our father, who was in the air force.

My paternal Grandpa Linwood was born in Thaxton, Virgina. I don’t know where my grandmothers on my father’s side were born though. Grandpa married my first grandma, Grandma Betty Jean and I don’t know how long they were together. I was never close to my first grandma and can only remember getting to meet her once as a child. I still remember she had dark hair that fell a little past her shoulders and she was wearing a bright red turtleneck I’ve been told she was an alcoholic, so I guess that’s why there were never close family ties with her.

My Grandpa Linwood remarried with my second grandma, Grandma Jane. She and Grandpa were the two grandparents my sister and I spent the most time with as children. We would always stay with them for several weeks during the summers. Sometimes we’d get to see Grandma Rachel while we were there too. I remember my grandparents ran a thrift store for a time and I’d get to ride around with grandma to yard sales as she scouted out things to buy to resale in the store. I remember it was in a big brick building with glass windows.

Summers were fun! Two of our cousins were being raised by our grandparents, so there was always someone to play with and we’d make up games. I remember Grandpa’s garden and Grandma’s blackberry cobbler best, she would always drizzle a little milk around the cobbler in the bowl. Grandpa had lost one of his legs many years prior in a railroad accident, but still did pretty much anything he wanted to do. Two not so good things I remember about Grandma were her dry cornbread and getting a switching if you were bad, which only took once for me.

Both of my paternal grandparents are deceased now. Grandpa Linwood died at home from lung cancer when I was 17 years old. I went and stayed with my Grandma for a little while to help take care of him. I had been really close to my Grandpa, he was like a father to me. My Grandma Jane died many years later. I loved her, but we’d never been as close as I had been to Grandpa. He was like a father to me.

My maternal grandparents lived in Virginia as well, for as long as I can remember. Grandma Rachel was born in Tennessee and Grandpa Earl was born in Florida. I never met my Grandpa Earl. He was an alcoholic and died before I was born. He was an abusive man as well from stories I’ve heard. In a way, it doesn’t make me regret that I never got to meet him or have a miss for him.

Grandma Rachel remarried a nice man, my Grandpa Robbie. My sister and I didn’t get to spend as much time with them as our other grandparents, but I have memories of going to the beach…Nag’s Head and the Wright Brother’s memorials…sand crabs, seagulls, body surfing, and sand dunes. Grandma Rachel and Grandpa Robbie both loved to go scuba diving. Grandpa Robbie died in a scuba diving accident, which stories I’ve heard say was a questionable death.

I don’t remember when Grandpa Robbie died, but it must have been when we were young. I remember Grandma Rachel would come to visit us by herself in North Carolina sometimes, but we always referred to the visits as “grandma visits” and it wasn’t as a term of endearment. It stung a little, because we didn’t understand why she’d drive two and a half hours to see us for about an hour and then head back to Virginia. We always wished she’d stay longer, but we were still glad she came.

She never remarried again, but met another man. He was a great love in her life until he died from cancer. Everyone in the family considered him family and included him in holidays without hesitation. He enjoyed woodworking and made many frames for Grandma’s photographs she liked to take. They never lived together, but they spent a lot of time together. Often he would come over, Grandma would fix him lunch or sometimes they would go out to eat. His cancer came as a surprise and took him away too quickly.

I was never really close to my Grandma Rachel as a child, but as an adult, she is the Grandma I am closest to and I’ve had opportunities to get to know better. She is the only living grandparent I have left as well. I love my Grandma Rachel and am glad my daughter has had a chance to get to know her Great Grandma Rachel. She is a vibrant grandmother full of the spice of life. She loves photography, making crafts, and going places. She’s in her 80’s and keeps going. She even still cuts her grass. My mother recently visited her. It was nice when I called and found out they were both busy making beaded jewelry. I can only hope to be as active when I’m in my 80’s.

This and That

This is one of those “little of this and that” type posts, kind of like show and tell at school or concocting soup in the kitchen from a variety of ingredients. I just wanted to share a few things…

I’m excited! A memoir piece I wrote was accepted in an anthology, Back to School 2013 Memoir Anthology. It’s now out on Amazon. My piece is called, “Confessions of a High School Social Phobic”. If you like writing memoir or would like to try your hand, there’s another call for submissions with a November deadline. You can find out more in the post over at the Karenzo Media blog.

Despite the craziness of my chaotic life, I’ve managed to read a couple of books too. One of the books, In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant, is a novel set in the Renaissance period. The two main characters are the courtesan and a dwarf. The two flee tragic circumstances in Rome and move to Venice, overcoming much so the courtesan’s business flourishes again. The story is told through the eyes of the dwarf, which offers an interesting perspective.

This book kept my interest all the way through the end. This author is so good at being descriptive, that it’s easy to visualize the settings and the characters. I won’t spoil the ending, in case you decide to read it, but I will say it didn’t end the way I thought it was going to. I enjoyed it! (the book, not the ending) It’s the second book I’ve read by this author, The Birth of Venus being the first.

The other book was a memoir I’ve had on my wish list for awhile, Loose Girl : A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen. It’s a memoir about a woman’s journey from promiscuity to learning how to have a real intimate relationship and how to love herself. She runs through guy after guy and pays the consequences for her actions through loss of friendships, chances at real love, degradation of self, and disease. There’s no fairy tale ending, but like the rest of us, I think it’s about self discovery and always trying to do better.

I think the author is brave for writing truthfully about such a taboo subject, but I was troubled so much I almost stopped reading the book a time or two. It wasn’t the promiscuity causing me such a problem, but the references to drug use interspersed throughout the book. There were parts as well, where her actions seemed shallow and selfish. I know that sounds so judgmental and I know none of us are perfect, but it’s my opinion as a reader. It was interesting enough and I wanted to understand more, so I did finish the book and I was glad I did. She’s bluntly honest.

Memoirs are one of my favorite things to read and write lately. Here’s a neat list I ran across of suggested memoirs to read. It’s by a woman who teaches memoir classes. The post is Writing Memoir? Read Memoir. Here’s a good article over at the Huffington Post by Linda Joy Myers, PhD. with tips on writing memoir too. One final tidbit I’ll leave you with is a quote I ran across. It’s a good one if you’re ever sitting there having guilt that you should be cleaning rather than writing… “At worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”—Rose Macaulay. I love it! 🙂

Books and More

It’s been way too long since I’ve blogged and I do miss it. I won’t start with any apologies or false promises of blog posts becoming more regular soon. My life is just in an emotional chaotic state right now…being a caregiver and having a multitude of unanswerable questions about the future. I’m doing the moment by moment living thing and never know what each day will bring.

I’m still writing and thought I’d just share some of the things I’ve run across lately. I just finished reading a fantastic book I found at the library last week. My mother came for a visit and it was the first trip I’ve had to the library in a long time. The book was Pain, Parties, Work : Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder.

I’ve been interested in the writer Sylvia Plath since I learned about her and watched the movie Sylvia, which starred Gwyneth Paltrow. The book provided an insightful look into Sylvia Plath’s life, most of it, of course, focused on the month she spent as a guest editor at Mademoiselle. It was more about who she was as a person during that time than about her writing, though it was touched on throughout. There are excerpts from her journal as well, but from other times, as the author says Sylvia only wrote a paragraph about the whole month in New York.

It’s a different kind of book, but a good read. There are things in it about the 50’s from fashion to the way women were viewed by men. It even has quite a bit about her various boyfriends. There are many quotes in the book about Sylvia by some of the other guest editors and old boyfriends. The last part of the book had information I never knew about her nervous breakdown and suicide attempt soon after her return from New York.

I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever read offering a better view as to who she was as a person. It still makes me sad. She was so talented and had two beautiful children when she committed suicide at 30 years old. It makes me wish she could’ve seen what others saw and realized she had so much more life to live.

Since I finished it and had to move on, I found a book I’ve never read sitting in a stack in my living room. The book is Founding Mothers : The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts. I picked it up at a used book store years ago, because it sounded interesting. Who knows why I haven’t read it before? (Must have had my nose in another good book and forgot) 🙂

It’s incredible! I am utterly amazed at how articulate the founding mothers were and I’m only to page 65 in the book so far. Women poets even contributed to the beginnings of America as a country independent from England. Some of the excerpts of Abigail Adams’ letters demonstrate a vocabulary surpassing many women of today, though she had no formal education other than that by her father. (No insult meant and I am including myself here) 🙂

Well, those are my current reads. Need to add to my “To-Read” list. I found a list of memoirs in a post Writing Memoir? Read Memoir over at the blog of Marion Roach Smith, which has some possibilities. One last thing I’ll leave with you is a neat post I read that made me smile. As wonderfully ideallic as I think it sounds to write sitting in a café somewhere, the writer of this post Squirrel, over at the blog A Thought Grows, is so how I’d be…a writer with “writer ADD” and getting little done. I’ll settle for my tea and the quiet of home or a nice grassy spot outside.  🙂

Happy writing and share any thoughts and/or any suggestions for good books you’ve read…

This and That

I’m still crafting, crocheting, and baking as Christmas is fast approaching. This means my writing temporarily takes a side seat. I’m still writing, just not as much. Thought I’d share a few things today, hence the title, so here’s a little of this and that.

I started reading a good book yesterday. The funny thing is I didn’t realize it was the same author of another book I had read till I got started. It’s a memoir titled Barnheart : The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One’s Own by Jenna Woginrich. The other book she wrote that I read is Made from Scratch.

The book is about her homesteading adventures, which of course intrigues me as I love homesteading. She has quite a sense of humor and writes with the blatant honesty I adore. Loved her apt description of chickens. I already read a little over 50 pages and can’t wait to get back to it.

This month also seems to be a month for poetry. It’s something I don’t write all the time, just when the moment strikes me. I seem to write more of it when I’m in a sad mood for some reason. Why can’t I just write happy optimistic poetry? Maybe one day. Though the one I shared does have some optimism.

Poetry appeals to me, because it allows you to say much using only a few words.  The feelings are there even when I’m too tired, more emotionally than physically tired, to write pages worth of my thoughts. It’s an easier way to speak my heart. This is a short one from yesterday. It may not be finished. Seems to need more.

Hope’s Flight

Hope flies on wings
Fragile as a butterfly’s
It’s such a delicate thing
Lifted on the winds of dreams
Inspires soaring higher
Seeking life’s passions and desires

Butterfly

Butterfly (Photo credit: fox_kiyo)

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a last thought. I was going through some of my many scraps of paper
I end up writing on and found a quote I had wrote down. It’s one of those that just make me so inspired, not just in writing, but living. Such inspiration is a desperate need in my life right now.

“I wished to live my precious time upon this earth deliberately, so that when my life was over, I would not discover that I had not truly lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

Memoir Writing…Completion to Resources for Writing Your Memoir

I’ve finished doing a self-edit of my memoir.  I did it on a copy I had printed out and forgot page numbers…whoops…yes, those could be important.  🙂 After going back and fixing a few things I found, I have officially printed out my first good copy of my memoir.  It is done.  Feels good to say that for more than one reason.

My memoir is done because I feel the story is done being told.  Though I know I said I wasn’t worried about word count, and I’m not, I think it’s still neat to know it ended up 32, 317 words.  It is 94 pages long, but 98 if the extra pages are included.  The extras are a dedication page, resource page, and a couple of pages of poetry.

My Memoir

My Memoir

My Memoir

My Memoir

The next step, and I am taking baby steps, is to turn my baby lose cautiously.  I need to let a few other people read it to get some feedback.  I know I sound like I’m obsessing a bit calling it my baby, but it is.  This is the first book I’ve ever written and the story is a part of me.

The best thing about being done and the story being written is this wonderful feeling of release.  There is a freedom in having some of my most painful experiences in life out of me and into words.  For me it’s actually been easier to find the written words than it would have been trying to speak them.

We all have stories in us and I would highly recommend writing a memoir to anyone.  I think it can especially be part of the healing process if there is something difficult you are dealing with in your life.  Reading memoirs written by others is a good place to get started learning about writing stories from life.  Here are a few other books and a blog I’ve found helpful as I’ve learned more about memoir writing :

Just Driving Along

Mountains Along the Drive

Mountains Along the Drive

It’s been a long week, but there have been some good points to it.  Here are the highlights.  I can now say, “officially” the longest drive I have ever driven by myself is about 8 hours.  It was to Tennessee this past Friday.  Once there, I was able to give my daughter a big hug for the first time in over a month and I was able to see one of my wonderful friends I had not seen in a long time.  The best news is my daughter is now back home in North Carolina.  We love calling North Carolina home.  There is much to be said for family, friends, and home.

This detour is not unusual.  My life has been full of detours in the last ten years.  I’m just getting a little better at accepting the detours, learning a little, and continuing the drive along the highways of life.  I just wish the journey wasn’t so rough sometimes and the rest stops to relax could last a bit longer.  I’m tired, but I keep plodding along.  (I found out kicking and screaming really didn’t work to well! 🙂 )

The writing journey continues as well, though the past couple of weeks it’s slowed down to more the speed of driving through town than on the interstate.  I’ve journaled quite a bit and enjoy being able to say anything in my journal.  It’s my “safe” place.  There’s security in the fact no one can judge me in my journal and no one can stop me from saying anything(just myself).

My other writing has primarily been a few poems and working on my memoir.  My main WIP, the memoir, has now reached over 30K words.  It’s nearing completion, meaning the story is about done being told regardless of the word count.  I have a few ideas of a couple of things I want to include at the end of the book that I need to work on though.

Just wanted to say hi.  I miss blogging and will try to share more again soon.  I’ve been reading some wonderful books I’d love to tell you about as well. In the mean time here’s something you can check out I’ve just begun discovering called Evernote.  I’m still exploring it.  It allows you to have digital notes and notebooks.  Just a few of the things I’ve found I like are you can access your files on multiple devices, share files with others, and email files to your self.  It may end up being a favorite.

Writing Our Stories

Broken Heart

Broken Heart (Photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti)

If you’ve read through some of my previous posts, you’ve probably noticed I have a leaning towards personal types of writing.  I love essays, journaling, and memoirs.  Our lives are stories and everyone has a story to tell.  My life is so overflowing that right now this is where my heart can find release to pour things out.  I have to write it down.

As with any form of writing you choose to partake, it’s said one of the best steps to do is read the form of writing you want to write.  I’ve been working on a memoir, so I’ve been reading memoirs.  Two memoirs I really enjoyed reading were Falling Apart in One Piece by Stacy Morrison and Eat, Pray, and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  The memoir I’m currently reading is The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming by Jennie Nash.  It is about her journey through breast cancer, which my step mother is currently having to face.

I’ll read anything if it strikes me right, but I tend to read memoirs written by women about their lives.  Either the book’s description or a brief flip through has to catch my eye with something I can relate to on some level.  I do have the book On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King on my wish list to read.  I love reading about writers’ lives.  Another memoir I have read was Literary Life by Larry McMurtry.  Unfortunately, it did not top my list for enjoyable memoirs.  It seemed to have a bit much pomp and a little too over factual for my tastes, but that’s just me.

One of my absolute favorite bloggers is Kat Collins.  She has a wealth of writing information and resource links on her blog.  She is also doing something I had never heard of before, but is an interesting idea.  She is blogging a memoir book she is writing :  The Good Wife.  She has some guest blogs on the topic of blogging a book at her Kat Collins blog, then you can go to the other blog to read her book thus far.

If you’ve ever been hesitant to write, maybe you’ll decide the truth is easier than fiction.  I’ve found my life is so unreal at times it seems, it’s just easier to write about it than try to make things up.  You can start small.  Start keeping a journal about your life or choose to write one story or blog post till you have enough for a book.  Two good organizations to learn more about writing memoirs are National Association of Memoir Writers and Story Circle Network.  Happy writing… 🙂

P.S. – I forgot another memoir I recently finished and thought was well written was If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus.  Warning is it’s sad and a tragic story of abuse.  It’s a story I think many women need to read.