Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It's Tuesday and I'm on the south shore of Lake Superior where my father grew up. I saw my grandmother's grave and I didn't have any particular feeling after all that looking - the nice lady in Wisconsin had sent a picture so that surprise was over. I left flowers, and it started to drip rain. Just then I thought of the scene in the novel that I had written, with John Wesley Morgan (my character) watching his mother be buried. It was a very different place that I'd imaginined than the one I was standing in. But suddenly I felt my father, six years old, in the same real place that I was, watching his real mother be buried. I thought of my six year old father and that loss and I cried. Stories connect us to our past and to what our future can be. They are so very powerful. You have your own stories.

I've uploaded a video of me at Grandma Jensen/Morgan's grave. I'm not a movie star. This will be the first of I hope many videos to help you think about stories. And teachers, I thought about starting this in the fall, but so many of you teach year round I'm just picking up now, where I am. I hope the rest of you will read the blog from the beginning and find some prompts and questions that will help you.

So, after watching the video, think about the grave stone. Why do people make gravestones? What kinds of things do people write on them? Imagine a story with a character who has lost someone. It can be a dog, a relative, an enemy. What would they write on the gravestone? What does this say about them? About the person or pet who has died? Now make a list of what the person/pet was like when it was alive. Try writing a scene between your character and the one who died. What happens, what do they say? Does this give you an idea for a story? If you try this, let me know - post a comment. Til next time. . .


Vaquerogirl said...

Suzy, I cried too! Just thinking about that six year old boy...poor little mite... and knowing how families were so often broken up by the death of their mothers.
My grandmother 's mother died when she was eight, she lived in Saskatoon Canada and the ground was frozen. Her mother had to be kept in the shed until the ground thawed enough to bury her. She would go to the shed, sit on the coffin and talk to her mother every day. She had nine or ten siblings,and her father gave the two youngest away to neighbors to care for, including the child that she had just given birth to, the reason for her death. Before the ground was thawed, her father had remarried. That story makes me cry too, and it is one that I hope to write one day- my grandmothers life, sketchy as it was, would make a great story!

Suzanne Morgan Williams said...

Barb, that story makes me cry. It's exactly what happened to my dad. My grandmother died following childbirth, the baby was given away, and my dad went to live with his grandparents. Life was not easy then. I hope you will write something inspired by your grandmother - whether memoir or novel. I'd love to read it.