Sunday, July 7, 2013
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Are You Made Up?
I remember the good old days when a quick swipe of blusher and lip gloss guided by my reflection in the bathroom mirror was my entire routine. These days, I set up the magnifying mirror, gather my tools and utensils including, water, q-tips, tissues and brushes, retrieve my basket of age-defying emoluments and have at it -- for at least half an hour. In those early days, a brief moment of self-approval followed making-up. These days, I wonder: when can a woman call it quits? When she retires? When she turn 65...70? When can she say, "This is it folks, I have wrinkles, I have sags, I have shadows, I have grey. Live with it. I do."
Monday, February 25, 2013
"What are you writing, Grandma?"
"Oh, this here's a story for the Baptist Sunday School magazine. They don't pay much, but I surely do enjoy writing stories for children. This'n here's about a baby pig. Would you like to read it, Hon?"
I sat on the floor beside her desk to read while she continued to write. I was entranced by the simple story with a moral and by this newly glimpsed aspect of this half-Cherokee, down-to-earth farm wife, my mother's mother. With her permission I emptied the big drawer of her desk of more written pages and was soon surrounded by stacks of her work. Most of it had been done, she told me, during the long, cold winters.
Reading more, I was impressed by how grammatical and correct her writing was, in contrast to her speech, and by the volume of her work. Over a period of thirty years she had written and sold hundreds of stories and articles. (She called them "ar-tikles" -- with the accent heavy on the first syllable.) She had been published in a rural-life monthly news magazine, The Grit, and in various church magazines. And, she was a regular contributor to the gardening section of the local newspaper.
With a small huffing sound that reflected her age and rounded body, she turned to look at me with faded blue eyes. "Look here, Hon, here's the notebook where I kept track of the money I earned. Don't know why I did that. Just to be tidy, I reckon." She gave it to me with hands that were work-worn but steady. I saw that the entries, with royalties ranging from fifteen to fifty dollars, totaled several thousand dollars.
Remembering her now, I think how typical that her record keeping was not for the sake of her ego or for the benefit of the IRS. She and Grandpa were innocent of taxes. Like virtuous, wise and simple people everywhere, they were free of many common character flaws, and mercifully ignorant of many of life's unpleasantries.
Before the end of our visit that summer, she revealed to me the existence of her novel, but to my questions and requests to read it she said that she had submitted it to several publishers but it had been rejected. When my curiosity persisted, she would tell me only that it was about the Civil War, and at the end its heroine fell down a well and drowned. To this day, the unpublished book remains a mystery. After she died it was never found.
Someone once said that a story is just a set of data with a soul. Gathered words imbued with a soul. My heart calls it truth, but my mind wonders if the story's soul is the captured essence of its characters or of its writer. In that novel of Grandma's, I still don't know why the main character had to die and I grieve for her, that fictional heroine and her lost story, with a melancholy that is quite real.