- Shirl Hawes, Primarily Writing (2001)
This is the quote that really hit home for me and has prompted me to change what I previously called Writer's Notebooks. While I was unsuccessful this past weekend in finding the perfect notebook - I thought a great deal about what to put inside it!! Weekends are my time to be with family - and in particular with my grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's three years ago. Now - truth be told - we did not always get along. She was a strong minded, strong willed, strong Polish woman who told you exactly what she thought when she was thinking it. Of course - that did not sit well with this strong minded, strong willed, strong Polish-Irish woman!! Growing up, I was my DziaDzia's baby and that didn't sit well with her either!
We're quite close now - or at least I number among the seven people that she still remembers. That might sound harsh in re-reading it but I consider it to be something of a badge of honor. While she often makes me her fifth daughter instead of her eldest granddaughter - the rest of the stories stay the same. My memory remembers them a bit differently, but I have started to write them down so that they cannot be forgotten. And, of course, we continue to make memories...each and every day.
So - the thought of being able to help students (and teachers) begin to think about their memories and experiences as nuggets of stories to mine is pretty important to me. My mom found an old school paper of hers the other day and shared it with us. It was written in September, 1953 on one of her first days of school. Along with the picture - the text told about how she spent her summer. Because she was about the same age as Amelia (eldest niece) is now - Amelia got the biggest kick out of it. She compared her writing (Amelia's is neater), the details in the drawing (Mom wins on that one - but only by a hair), and of course the topic of how they spent their summer (swimming vs. jump roping). My mom shared many stories of her summers growing up as we compared the pictures, which made me think about how we spent our summers growing up. I came right home and jotted down my top five favorite things we did when growing up:
1. Spending days at my parents cabin in the Alleghany region creek-walking and catching crayfish.
2. Swimming at my grandparents house and in particular, sliding down what seemed at the time to be the highest, steepest slide ever into the water.
3. Visits from cousins who lived in other states. Because our family is so big and close, we made little disctinction between first cousins and second cousins - the ages seemed to blend together. But it was always a treat when relatives came in from Ohio or Arkansas or Indiana to visit.
4. Surprise visits from my Uncle Billy. My father's brother - he always just seemed to appear from out of nowhere. He lives in California and these once a year visits were not only unpredictable but caused severe upheaval to everyone - he was loud, told incredible stories (that age has taught us were quite exaggerated), and he did whatever he wanted, when he wanted. It drove my mom crazy - but it was an incredible week!! And then, as soon as he came, he disappeared. (PS - nothing has changed!)
5. Playing "raisins" with the neighbor kids. Raisins was a game that we made up and the rules always changed - so that we would win of course!! We jokingly try to play it with the nieces and nephew now but they don't let us get away with it.
What would your top five summer memories be?