Your LifeStory Episode 3
"This is wonderful, Marcia."
"Thanks for so many nice comments. What great publicity for my books."
This Blog* and My Memoir Workbook are meant to encourage, inspire and motivate you to write your unique story. Don’t keep your memories hidden or secret any longer.
Marcia Rosen, Author of 11 books, including My Memoir Workbook, has presented Memoir Writing Programs and Encouraging the Writer Within You Presentations for over 16 years, from New York to California and New Mexico!
A LifeStory Memory
Each Blog shares a portion of someone else’s LifeStory that we hope will entertain and inspire you to write and share your own.
Submit yours with your name and email to: MarciagRosen@gmail.com.
June 1, 2023
It was a good time to call Mom. She’s three time zones away, and she’s usually near the phone in her early afternoon. Mom has been a wonderful shepherd for our father and for all the children. This is a his-hers-theirs family. Mom and Dad married after the deaths of their spouses.
Mom is 93, living in a senior home in Ohio. She gets good care, and her physical condition, though compromised by lack of mobility, is not bad for her age. Her mental acuity varies from rational to badly confused. We all think of her older sister, who is now one month away from birthday 101. She’s suffered profound dementia for almost ten years now and is now non-verbal and non-responsive. She lives in a care facility in New Jersey. Mom’s senior home runs a full calendar of activities. She participates in very few. She often requests the meals be sent to her room, where she eats alone. Local family members visit her often, but Mom laments the lack of contact with family. She does not seek the company of others in her residence.
Mom has always been troubled by fear. We don’t tell her about most medical issues, as every malady is interpreted as terminal. I did, however, tell her about my hip replacement, as there is no link to cancer or stroke. Her constant connection to grim thoughts is disturbing. Mom knows her sister may be close to death. She thinks about this with unceasing focus.
I called just to catch up. Our home was filled with joy and grandchildren for several days, and I’d hoped to share good stories with her. She answered the phone in good spirits. We talked about our California Jewish food festival. She had some tidbits about a similar festival in her area. We talked about my brother’s birthday and about the family picture collection that she planned to send him. Mom spoke of finding a photo of her father as a young man. She claimed never to have seen this picture before, even though it must have been in her place for years.
And then she said, “Wait. Did you hear those beeps?” I did not hear the beeps. “Mom, that just means that someone is calling you. There will be a message waiting for you after our call.” “Oh, no. I better get off now. That might be a call about my sister.”
So that ended our conversation. It had only lasted five minutes. Mom and I were in a happy conversation about Jewish food festivals and old family photos. I wanted to keep her involved for a good bit more. But no. She had to stop our conversation – real people, real-time, right now – to deal with her own obsession with the morbid condition of her sister. She did not call back. I don’t know the content of that interrupting call.
Mom’s sister died, I believe, in 2020. And Mom passed away in 2021.
Bits and Pieces of Your Life
Write 100 words or less about a funny situation, a strange or unique happening, or a “meet cute” story you experienced.
Dad: An Adventure into the Woods
Memory recalls only one family foray into the woods. This was for a picnic on Joe Palooka Mountain when my sister and I were under six. Dad spotted a snake, and we quickly left. I was too young to be a reliable observer, so I could not fill out the details. I remember the incident, but puzzling questions remain. Dad claimed the snake was a copperhead, a poisonous variety native to the area. Was it really? Dad had no talent for taxonomic distinctions, and I’ve always suspected he regarded every snake as poisonous.
It was our last picnic.
Gary Simon can be reached at GarySimonMonterey@gmail.com
Writing Your LifeStory Hints, Tips, and Advice
How to write one’s LifeStory? Writing a memoir can be a daunting and, at times, emotional experience. It is also exciting, fulfilling and rewarding. A memoir is a true story you tell about specific events, experiences or times in your life. You can write about the whole span of your life or one specific episode.
Why Are You Writing Your Life Story?
To Remember You…To Think About You…To Give Voice to Your Life
To Leave a Legacy for Your Loved Ones, Friends and Others
To Inspire, Motivate and Encourage
To Grieve…To Heal…To Release Yourself From Hurts, Pains and Sorrows
To Tell Your Truths…To Make Others Accountable to Their Truths
To Search for Answers…To Understand Them
To Find Comfort
To Find Joy and Celebration in All You Are and All You Have Done
To Honor Your Accomplishments
Keep in mind who you are writing for: your family and friends, the reading public?
What do you want them to know about you and your life?
Reminder: Keep a notebook with your LifeStory ideas.
More hints, tips, advice, and my story in each blog.
Following is part of my LifeStory:
Me and My Gangster Father (Excerpt )
He called me Sugar Plum.
Listening to many women and men and reading pieces of their memoirs in classes I have taught for the past fifteen-plus years, I realize how fortunate I’ve been.
I was spoiled, but not a spoiled brat. Although counting 29 cashmere sweaters when I graduated high school does seem that way. Still, somehow along the way, I learned to be responsible, be “appropriate,” and have dreams and ambitions I was determined to fulfill. There was no abuse, no feeling of being unwanted. Quite the opposite, and as a friend told me, “You were daddy’s little girl.”
I was. It may have been difficult for him to see me grow up beyond being a child to a teenager. I have a photo of my dad pushing me on a swing when I was only 3 or 4, wearing a pinkish pinafore dress, and another sitting on his lap, as I waited for my first prom date. I wore a frilly tan dress my mother must have picked out for me.
My biggest disappointment was my parents refusing to let me go out of town to college. Years later, my business was a success, I asked my mother why, and she told me, “You were too boy crazy.” “Huh?” I did like boys; most teenage girls do. I’ve always felt deprived of an adventure into learning and discovery I would have loved.
Somewhere in this memory of my growing up, there was my mother's voice letting me know she was aware I was more than she expected.
“We didn’t realize you were so smart, You really could have been somebody.” Okay, another, “huh.”
“I’m mad at you.” “I know,” I tell her. “No, you don’t.” “Yes, I do. You’re made a didn’t marry someone rich and successful so you could brag about It to your friends.”
As my mother grinned and shook her head a knowing yes, I added, “Can’t you be proud I’m successful?”
The grin disappeared, and there was no knowing shake of the head. I think the truth is my parents didn’t want me to leave home because they didn’t want to be alone with each other. Their marriage was filled with each one longing for something they didn’t have. I’m not sure what, and I’m not sure they knew what, either. In so many ways, they lived separate lives. My father spent much of his time with his business and his cronies while my mother for years took care of our home and me. Their relationship was certainly no role model for me to aspire to, although I knew I aspired to have a life more like my father’s than my mother’s. In many ways, I have. I learned so much from him. I also learned a lot about him, things he did I wouldn’t do.
Yes, I liked boys. I’m sure that worried my father. A man like my father had certainly ‘been around,” He was very street smart. I had grown into a slim, attractive teen, so I had been told. I dated many nice boys; too bad I didn’t marry one of them.
I stayed in miserable winter weather Buffalo, went to college near home, and fell madly in love with my Italian boyfriend. Ha, I showed them! It practically drove my parents to the edge of sanity. Oh, but what a lovely time for me. All these years later, I clearly know he was the love of my life. Or, maybe I just have the memory of the special love and romance with him. Back in those good old days, nice Jewish girls married Jewish boys, So I married two of them. One at a time, of course. Many women of my generation have stories of loved ones lost. What a waste.
Once during my late teen years, my parents and I were invited to a family wedding. I don’t remember where it took place; it doesn’t matter. What matters to me is the memory of having danced with my father. My mother kept urging him to dance with me even though I could tell he really, really didn’t want to.
I was wearing a fitted, black dress and with my long red hair had many compliments on how good I looked. Did I write he really didn’t want to dance with me? Of course, I did!
Finally, my father and I danced. I can still feel his discomfort and his not wanting to hold his attractive daughter close to him. I think he was embarrassed, the sense of holding me in his arms, not like when I was that little girl on the swing or thirteen year old sitting on his lap waiting for my prom date.
Dancing, I was in his arms like a man holding a lover. I am glad we danced. Even though I, too, was uncomfortable. I could tell by his body language this was all too much for him.
We had just one dance, and dozens of years later I remember it with a smile on my face. It was a moment in time we shared, then it was over.
One dance with me, his arms around me, was all my father could handle.
For more stories about me and my gangster father, check out the book The Gourmet Gangster.
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