With this weekend being Memorial Day, it is appropriate that we reflect on memories. I belong to a writers' group called Word Mage. My good friend Billie Williams is the head honcho. We recently gained a new member, who calls herself Pee Wee. Pee Wee lives in Florida with her husband Ralph in a 5th-wheeler. Pee Wee was talking about memories, and what life would be like without them.
As I reflected on that conversation, I wondered about people who have amnesia or Alzheimers and who have no memories. Would you miss not having them? With amnesia, at least you have the option of creating new memories.
I would like to share a couple of memories, both old and new, with you. Another friend, Barbara (Babs) Williamson-Wood and I were recently discussing the book she is working on. It is about a glass hummingbird. As she described the old woman in the story, a visual image of my Great-grandma Bowen popped into my head. As I told Babs about Grandma Bowen, she agreed that the two women sounded like one-in-the-same. I said I had some pictures of Grandma Bowen, and she asked me if I could send her one.
That sent me to a box of pictures my mother had given me shortly before she died, in Dec. 1996. I had never looked through all of them, so this was as good a time as any. I found pictures of our own family from bygone years, pictures of my "early" family when I was just a child, pictures of my mom when she was young along with a lot of relatives I hadn't thought about for years. And yes, I found pictures of Grandma Bowen, including the one at the top of this blog. I remembered her sitting in that rocking chair, when she was in her 90s, telling my dad, "Howard, don't ever live to be an old lady. People feel sorry for you." My dad assured her that he never would. He lived to be 83 years old, and he kept that promise to her. Memories! I didn't want to do without them! They were far too precious.
As I continued on, I dumped the contents of another manila envelope onto the bed, I gasped. My husband Ivan and I were missionaries in Venezuela for 9 years. I had pictures of Venezuela, but on our final trip back there we had a blowout on a tire on the trailer that contained all of our worldly possessions, including our photographs. The contents were for the most part scattered all over the Interstate in Florida, right near the Busch Gardens. Like it was a sign that God had not forsaken us, the English bone china tea seat Ivan had given me for my first Mother's Day, was in tact and we got all of the pieces back and only one cup was broken!
Now, facing up at me on the bed, were the pictures I had sent to my parents of Venezuela. I could not help myself; the tears flowed freely. How I missed those dear people. Yes, I still have contact with some of them, but I was incredibly homesick for the land that had become my own homeland during those years we spent there. I looked at them, one by one, running my fingers over the people's faces as if I were a blind person feeling the ridges and wrinkles of the person standing in front of them as they tried to "remember" how they looked. Ah, these pictures evoked memories of long ago that I was so glad to rekindle.
And now, on to new memories. My latest book, Bank Roll, just came out this week. It has had a strange run already. The storyline is about a young woman, Max (Maxine, but only to her mother) Stryker, who left the small fictional town of Willow Creek, MN to seek her fame and fortune in "the twin cities" as a crime reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In the book, The Pioneer Press had a huge cutback and Max ended up jobless, and she had to decide whether to try to get on at the neighboring Minneapolis Star Tribune, or to go back home to Willow Creek, which she vowed she would never do, and where nothing exciting ever happened. She finally gave in and decided that she would go home again, and as fate would have it, the first exciting thing to happen since the moose got loose and caused poor old Pete Broquist's demise took place when the bank president was kidnapped.
Now real life is often stranger than fiction, and Max Stryker is living proof of that. The day after I finished the edit on the manuscript, Knight Ridder announced they were selling their newspapers, including the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and there were going to be a lot of job losses in the process. Fast forward to May 7, 2007, the day Bank Roll went up at Ingram so bookstores could get the book. The news broke on May 8, 2007, in an AP release that went nationwide, the Minneapolis Star Tribune announced that they were cutting back 145 jobs.
I called the reporter from the Star Tribune to discuss the cuts and Bank Roll. By the time we finished talking, he commented, "I'll bet she is really glad she didn't stay here. She'd have her second pink slip!" I reminded him, politely, that she is a fictional character. His reply was simple, but so inspiring to an author. "Oh, I forgot." I suspect that Max Stryker is on her way to making her own memories!
Finally, I do not often wax political, but this time I cannot help it. As we face a new Memorial Day, our hearts and memories go back to those who have given years of their lives to preserving our rights. Ivan served in Korea, as did a cousin of mine--Billy Rosenbush. His brother, Bob Rosenbush, was in Germany. My father-in-law and his brother both served in WW I. They all came home safely, but Billy was killed in a freaky car accident just shortly after he returned. To them, and to all the other brave men and women who have fought on our behalf, I say "Thank you." But now we are facing a new era. My heart aches for the young soldiers who are at war and who are dying daily. Just this week we have lost two men from our area; one was from Wahpeton, ND and the other was from Hawley, MN. One of them was only 23 years old and had a wife and a 2-year-old baby. I have to wonder why they were even there. Granted, we need protection from terrorism. I don't want a rerun of 9/11 any more than anyone else does. But our young people are our most valuable commodity. I want them here with us--with their families, at their jobs, continuing the studies they had to vacate--so they can make their own memories. I want them to be more than just a memory. I salute each of you, but I want you home!
I will be back this weekend with a new blog on a lot of exciting things that will be happening on my "Marketing for Fun and Profit" Internet Radio Voices program. Stay tuned! And above all, stay safe! Until next time!