Monday, February 8, 2010

How It All Began

In October 2008, in an attempt to get my mother, then 87, to finish writing the memoir she had begun years earlier, I talked her into enrolling in a six-week memoir-writing class at the local senior center. We were the only two students present. The next week, there was one more, and then a third, and soon we had six students. The instructor left before the class officially ended, and we were on our own.

A year and a half later, we are still writing. Once a week, every week, we pull our chairs up to a big, round table in the senior center "craft room" and, surrounded by a jumble of Christmas ornaments, scraps of cloth, and other bric-a-brac, we read aloud what we have written during the week.

Because I'm a professional writer, the others quickly decided that I would become their teacher. I am also the youngest in the group by at least 25 years (I'm 55). Most of the writers are in their eighties. The eldest turned ninety-nine last October.

Writing is never an easy task, and old age doesn’t make it any easier. Some of the Hale Street writers don’t drive anymore. Some of them don’t see or hear like they used to. They struggle to make their pens do what they want, to understand what their computer means when it says, “Overwrite?” They wrestle with imperfect memories, and lives that are too long to fit comfortably on the page—where to begin? What to leave out? What to include?

 And yet every week, there they are, at the table, homework in hand, ready to share their life experiences.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sara, this is great. I am compiling a little list of people who should be notified that this blog exists. (In case you haven't already notified them.) Mom