Excerpts From My Memoirs

Magnolia bloomI’m dealing with several kinds of headaches right now, so I’ve decided to pick out some chapters from my memoirs to share for a few days while my body works on itself.  There might be some short stories from my writing class included, I haven’t fully decided yet, but I’ll start somewhere and  see where it goes.

 

ODE

PLOP! went my heart

when you said goodbye.

Tears you can’t see

squished from my eye.

It’s not you I miss

But the love of my dog.

I splashed down the creek

and tripped over a log.

But today I got even.

MRRRRROOOOOWWWWW!!!! roared my cat.

Your neighbors all watched

as she squashed your birds flat.

She feasted on pheasant

and dined on the dove.

And now I can finally

say farewell to our love.

The assignment here was to write a poem.  I have written poetry most of my life, but could never write it on command.  It’s something that has to touch me at the moment, and flow from my heart thru my pen to the paper, so to be assigned to write a poem is difficult for me.  The original title of the above was “Ode To A Lost Love”.  It was meant as a joke, but the young kids in the class were just getting to know me, and had no idea that old granny had a sense of humor, so they took it seriously, and critiqued it very politely, feeling sorry for the old fool.  So for the next class, I felt I had to explain myself in the following:

ODE TO AN ODIOUS ODE

Methinks they know us not dear Ode,

You were meant to tickle their funny bones

but instead they took us seriously.

What would be their reactions

if they knew how much I love practical jokes?

Would they believe I hold the record

for the most wins for off road drag racing

for the years 1960 through ’63?

They for, dear Ode, that I came of age

during the turmoil of the Sixties.

Ah, the Sixties.

They can’t see behind this Grandma facade,

the flower child who sat in for integration

and spoke out against senseless slaughter

of her friends in hellish, fiery jungles of Viet Nam.

They see not the bracelet we wore until it fell apart

with the letters MIA (missing in action) outside

And Paul Christenson next to my pulse.

Many men came home

but Paul was not among them.

They see not the young mother, surrounded

by three young children,

packing a guitar case in one hand,

a baby in the other,

and diaper bag filled with necessities

running around town with her sister

singing, and playing local gigs.

They were not there the night we sang back up

for Lynyrd Skynyrd,

or the day we received the recording contract

from the studio in Nashville.

In retrospect, dear Ode,

if our memory had not been failing us,

would we have accepted either of the offers?

Think of the possible fame,

given up for what reason?

Shall we take the high road

and say we put the children first?

Or was it the deeply imbedded fear of failure

to remember the words to our songs

and the fear of crowds that froze our tongue?

We’ll never know now.

MS has robbed us of our voice,

and the rotators cuff we so blithely ignored

has robbed  us of the ability to strum our guitar.

So, dear Ode,

in that brief moment it took us to write you,

We drew upon our inheritance of wit,

only to find we did not inherit as much as we thought.

They took us seriously:

no one laughed.

But the looks on their faces as they tried to find

words to describe you, dear Ode,

those looks were priceless.

And with those closing words I humbly accepted the roars of laughter, the bright “A” adorning my paper, and the new look in my fellow student’s eyes when they saw me enter the classroom two times a week for the rest of the semester.

I learned a lot in that class, from both the teachers and the fellow students,  from their honest critiques after the first couple of classes when they weren’t sure what grandma was doing in a college classroom.  We collaborated on several pieces after that, and I felt like I had found a new group of children to take home and feed, and oh, yeah, they did get fed.  After all, grandma was retired and had all morning to cook, while they were busy earning a degree and holding down two jobs to pay the tuition.  My tuition was comped by AmeriCorps, a paid volunteer organization I worked in for the two years they allowed, so I didn’t have to use my time to pay off college tuition, and at my age, just wanted to take the classes I was interested in — film, photography, writing, English Lit., can’t remember what else now, but those were the ones I enjoyed.

So you see, while old age really ain’t for sissies, it can still be a whole lotta fun!!!

A.

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6 responses to “Excerpts From My Memoirs

  1. Your Ode is priceless writing, the telling of your life full of experience. Those traditional college students were sure lucky that Grandma turned up in their class that semester. Beautiful work, Angie.

    • Thanks Mark. I had a lot of fun that semester, even thought of taking a second semester, but following my usual routine, moved on to other things. The Ode was fun to do, and the second one was even more fun, because it opened me up for the first time since my tours with the People With AIDS Coalition days when I toured the state, speaking at schools and meetings about the disease. I think I may have made headway with a few people, hopefully changed a few lives for the better. Might start on those stories on Memorial Day.

      • I’ve spent a lot of time digging thru some of them today Mark. Some are extremely personal, so I’ll have to think about them, but some I am planning on posting during the next week while I fight through this bug that’s attacking my sinuses.

    • Thanks Jess. I don’t know if my kids will ever read my memoirs, but I took the time to start writing them down, so decided to start sharing them here. Kinda fun.

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