|Posted by ruthsmithmeyer-com on April 15, 2016 at 5:50 PM|
Fran barely got inside the door with the bag she held in her arms. A wave of emotion surged through me as I caught sight of familiar shirt fabric peeking above the edge of the bag.
“I’m going to cry,” I warned her as the tears sprang to my eyes. I reached out to give her a hug and she just held on to me as I sobbed for a moment. She had done one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.
A short time after my husband, Paul’s death, Fran had asked if she could have some of his dress shirts so she could make a quilt of them. Already then, my heart was touched at her kindness. I was thinking of a wall hanging or a lap quilt, but the finished quilt is a queen-size that fits my bed perfectly.
As I looked over those well-known patches, it seemed I could almost feel my husband’s arms around me. It was almost three months since my dear one left for the heavenly realms and I had not been able to cry much because I felt that it would seem I was ungrateful for the time we had been granted. That quilt helped me shed the tears that alleviated my reserve and facilitated the beginning of a healing process.
Its work isn’t completed, for it will continue bringing me joy and happy memories. There are parts of the shirt Paul was wearing the first time he invited me to his house. A few are from a shirt I bought for him to attend my great-nieces wedding. There’s a part of a pocket from a shirt that had ‘Canada’ on the flap. Then there’s one from the shirt that was identical to one my first husband wore. Even Paul’s ‘cowboy shirt’ that he only wore when he visited his son in Alberta is included. And with each one, there are unique memories of the man who was a real bonus blessing I had never expected but was a gift straight from God.
The sight of something, just like the quilt, often stirs our memories and emotions. You may, for instance see a small teapot just like your grandma’s and immediately you are transported back to the shaded verandah where she served you mint tea on a lazy summer day. You smell smoke and unbidden, the scene of a barn-fire in your past is played out on the screen of your mind. The sight of a certain plaid flannel shirt or a warm cardigan brings back the feel of your grandfather’s arms holding you close.
At a writing workshop that I once led, I took along a few familiar items—a candlestick, a china tea cup and doll. Putting them out one at a time, I asked those in the class to write whatever came to mind when they looked at that item. It took a few moments for some to get started, but most put their pens to work right away and kept writing until time was up. When some of them shared, it was amazing the variety of memories and emotions that were aroused by one item.
As writers, we sometimes wonder what we can write that hasn’t been recorded before. However, as with those articles, whatever we witness in life and attempt to write about will stir up unique memories and observations that are inimitable, because we are unique human beings and no one else sees things quite like we do. However by honest recounting of what we see and experience, we can help others to be candid with themselves.
As I wrote my memoirs in Out of the Ordinary many memories were raised so vividly that my dreams were full of scraps having to do with different eras in my life. Some of those memories brought me renewed happiness and had me smiling broadly. Several released tears of long-forgotten hurt as I lived again the pain of being misunderstood or rejected. There also were those that made me blush in embarrassment all over again. However, it was a healing and invigorating process as I brushed the dust off of those neglected parts of my life. Seeing them from a more mature advantage, helped me acknowledge them and then let them go.
It constantly amazes me that by being open, sharing not only the good parts of my life but also the struggles and failures, it can be helpful to others. After my book was out for a while, in the course of two days, I got calls from three different women whose lives were quite diverse—from my own as well as each other’s. Yet they all said the same thing, almost word for word.
“It was so refreshing to read your story. Sometimes I almost felt as though I was reading about my own life, because I identified so closely with you. It was nice to know that someone else struggled with the same feelings I did.”
Each time I get such a reaction from my readers, I give thanks, for it seemed they have gained something from my story. There are feelings that are common to us, even when the circumstances differ. We humans are too apt to think others are coping better than we and that we are the only ones struggling with life. Sharing those feelings can be a relief and have the affect of validating each other
So writers, let’s take another look at what lies before us and around us. Let’s really see the ordinary things of life and let the memories and associations speak to us. Writing about it may bring healing and resolution to not only us as writers, but to readers as well.