Makes Ya Think
For Christmas, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a book titled “My Mother’s Life”. It’s a journal, meant to be filled out by me, answering questions about my life to have as a record for my children and grandchildren. It was a really thoughtful gift and right up my alley. I’ve been looking over the questions to see what they ask, and a few thoughts have come to mind.
The book is divided into sections: Early Childhood & Heritage, Childhood, Teenage Years, Young Adulthood, Adulthood, and “Wisdom”. I like that – Wisdom. No one wants to say Old Age.
The “Young Adulthood” section has intrigued me. It’s more or less defined as the time between when you turn 20 and when you settle down and get married. For me, that was only 2-1/2 years. And my Young Adulthood apparently wasn’t nearly as exciting as the book’s editors had hoped. No wild parties, no youthful transgressions, no tattoos. I was already dating the man I would marry and we were responsible, terribly dull folks. The craziest thing I did was let him drive me around in his terrible old Fiat, aka the Flintstones car, because the floor was almost completely rusted out.
Still, I look forward to filling out the pages. Of course, given my writing habits, I’m doing a first draft on my computer before I actually write in the book. I know I’ll want to revise! And I’ll have to figure out how many handwritten words I can fit on one page, and then edit, edit, edit. I’m a wordy bird.
It’s a walk down Memory Lane. I haven’t thought so concretely about my childhood and teen years in quite a while, other than a few favorite anecdotes. It asks questions I might not have asked myself. Like, what did I want to be when I grew up and who encouraged me? And I find myself thinking, did I have a choice? Back in the 1950s, pretty much every little girl was expected to grow up, marry, and have a family. Which is what I did. That’s what EVERY woman I knew back then had done. And for me, it turned out well, certainly I have no complaints, but if I had been born a few years later, the questions in this book would be answered very differently. Things changed so much in society in my lifetime.
In the ‘Wisdom’ section, it asks “What advice would you give your eight-year-old self?” Are you kidding? My eight-year-old self was perfectly fine. It was my FIFTEEN-year-old self I might want to advise. Oh wait, the book does ask that, a few pages on. Okay, now we’re talking.
The childhood and teen years sections ask about my favorite teachers in those periods, and it was nice to go back and remember them. Mrs Buell, in fifth and sixth grade, who opened my eyes to the enjoyment of learning new stuff. Mrs Pierson, in tenth grade, who introduced me to historical fiction (beyond the Little House books!). Both women were good teachers in every sense, and kind women. I was lucky to have them.
Oddly enough, although it’s titled My Mother’s Life, it asks very few questions about my experiences BEING a mother. I may have to interject a few things along that line. And the final questions are about whether I wish I had done more of something or maybe less of something in the past. Not a single question, though, about my thoughts on the future. Well, guess what, not everything is in the past.
So now, on New Year’s Day, I do have thoughts about the future. Where I’d like to be a year from now. I hope I’m still writing. In the past couple of years since finishing my last book, I only wrote blog posts, no new stories, but in the past few months, I’m back in the groove. It feels good. And I’ve decided to start sketching on a daily basis, as a new challenge. I have no training, but hope to teach myself using some books and YouTube videos. It’s not so much the end result that I’m interested in, as the process and challenge. I might try watercolors too. After the shock of turning seventy this year, I figure it’s now or never. My New Year’s Resolution is to Read, Write, and Sketch, every morning before anything else. (Well, coffee….)
Those questions in that book are about my past, and I like to think my family might actually read some of them eventually (I’ll try to make my answers interesting, kids!), but my thoughts are for the present, enjoying each day as much as possible, and challenging myself for the future. This holiday season has already seen friends and relatives pass away, or end up in the hospital for a time. Makes ya think. Do I dare to imagine myself doing more and being more at this point in my life? You betcha.
Beginning next week, I will be posting a new short story every two weeks. They will be linked short stories and something new for me, they will contain an element of Magic. The overall title will be The Street of Strangely Satisfying Obsessions. I hope you will read and enjoy them!
Here’s to happy times, and a Happy New Year, to all of you. And many happy returns.
By Carolyn Steele Agosta
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And if you'd like to know more about my books, you can find them here.