by Fae Rowen
Today I'm sharing an emotional memory, a memory that I recalled while working on my WIP. For me, connecting with my past feelings can really open up my writing by connecting emotions with my characters.
I received my best Christmas present years ago.
My father went to Chicago on business the week before Christmas. He bought a fake-fur-lined hat that had ear flaps, along with a pair of gloves, and a heavy coat for the trip. It's the only business trip he ever took, and I was a devastated five-year-old Daddy's girl when he left the house in a taxi. I'd never seen a taxi before that night.
My mother had to have earned sainthood that week. All I did was ask how long until Daddy got home. I used to run out of the house when my dad drove in the driveway, home from work. He'd pick me up, ask what was for dinner, and carry me up the four stairs to the front door. Every day he was gone, I waited for him to drive up the driveway. My mother and I baked Christmas cookies for him. A lot of cookies, a batch everyday he was away. Amazing, I didn't eat any of them. I saved them all for him.
Finally THE DAY arrived. Because my mom didn't drive, friends took us to the airport to pick him up, so we didn't have to wait for a taxi to return him to us. I don't remember much about the airport, except my mom's hand squeezing my hand like hers was a vise. There were so many people hurrying, crying, laughing, and kissing that she was probably afraid I might get separated from her and lost. And there was a big Christmas tree with lots of wrapped presents under it. An attractive nuisance for a five-year-old who was there to meet her father.
Back then, the planes landed on the tarmac, workers rolled stairs up to the hatch, and the passengers exited down that long flight of steps. A rope held back those waiting outside for the travelers.
My mother's friends explained that my father would come out the door of that huge, tall plane, walk down the stairs, make his way across the red carpet to the outside of the building where everyone meeting their loved ones had gathered. Except, we weren't anywhere close to that carpet. We were behind all the others waiting for loved ones.
I watched each head duck through the door. Too many people left the plane. I was sure he wasn't going to come out. I almost started crying.
And then, I saw his dark hair duck under the door and he stood at the top of the stairs, scanning the crowd before he started down. I broke free from my mother's hand and ducked under the rope, dashing toward those stairs, yelling, "Daddy! Daddy!"
I don't remember pushing people aside, but I ran up the stairs and met him on the gangway. He laughed, picked me up and kissed me, then carried me to my mother, who stood waiting behind the rope, like the rule-follower she was.
Best present ever. I had my Daddy back.
Your turn! Tell us about your best memory—and how you could use it in your writing—in the comments!
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In my first book, I loaned my MC a memory I still cherish to this day. It's the earliest thing I can recall--a memory of an uncle reaching down to pick me up and hug me. My aunt and mother were both shocked that I remembered him. I was less than three years old when he passed. Here's the scene from the book. Just replace James with Eldred and his father with Uncle Charlie, and you will have my original memory.
His entire life had been spent within the walls of the little house located in the historic district west of Central Avenue. James recalled his earliest memory in the small, bright living room; it was a memory of his father. He could see a picture in his mind—just a snapshot frozen in time.
He recalled a large, dark haired man reaching down to pick him up. The man appeared so big and imposing, but his warm smile disarmed James and melted away any fears. He remembered the feeling clearer than the face . . . a feeling of warmth, and of love.
Warm fuzzies. That's what our writing can give to others, when we share something of ourselves. Thanks for sharing your memory, Eldred.
I've already written about this elsewhere, so here it is again. My only clear Christmas memory of my first ten years was the Christmas I was seven. We had practically no money (although I didn't know it, as money was never discussed, and Christmases were always fairly simple anyway). On Christmas morning I went downstairs to find all my dolls lined up on the sofa, wearing new clothes; I learned later that my mother had made them from various scraps in the evenings after I was in bed. She had also transformed an ordinary corrugated cardboard carton into a magical doll house, furnished with odds and ends, some constructed and others found. I adored that wonderful doll house; I played with it and played with it for months until it must surely have fallen apart.
Christmas mornings were magical at my house, too. There wasn't much money, we only got an ice cream cone on Sunday's after church if my dad had worked overtime the week before, but my mom sewed, too. And my dad was a tool and die maker, so he could make anything. It made me cherish everything I got.
I'm sure there are a ton I've put into my books, but the biggest, and most memorable, was the entire WF I wrote, Days Made of Glass, to my sister, who I lost at 32 to cancer. NONE of the plot is anything that happened to us, but the relationship of the two sisters is ours.
Sigh. Love that book.
Your love of your sister makes that book shine, Laura. It is so powerful. Loss is so life-altering...
You and Nancy shine right out of that book, Laura. It's lovely.
My best memories are every single moment I had my mother. She's gone now, and I can't make new memories, so I treasure each one. I share them with my daughter to keep them alive.
And you're making your own memories with your daughter, that she will treasure and remember and pass on to her daughter.
Your answer made me smile. 🙂
My earliest memory is about my father too! My tiny hand holding just his finger as we walked together. Still brings a smile to my face.
One of my memories of my father brings a smile, but for a totally different reason. My father had the biggest hands, and he was ambidextrous. Not good for young me who didn't follow the safety rules of the house. I got spanked a lot as a child (only with his hand and only one swat), for breaking rules like "Don't get in the street." Of course, I thought I was so smart and invisible. Um, not. I never was able to outrun him. When I was six, I finally figured it out. Slow learner, too. When I was seven, I asked my parents why they didn't return me to the hospital. They laughed and said, "Because we love you."
Awwwwww. Tiny Julie fingers!
[…] by Fae Rowen Today I’m sharing an emotional memory, a memory that I recalled while working on my WIP. For me, connecting with my past feelings can really open up my writing by connecting emotions with my characters. I received my best Christmas present years ago. My father went to Chicago on business the week […] Source link […]
Love everyone's responses! I remember when I was around 5 or 6 and
lived in Toronto near the old Metro Zoo I'd lie awake at night and listen to the roar of the lions and hoot of monkeys. I'd make up stories about them all escaping and running down my street. My dreams were mostly about animals, still are today. And animals of various kinds are in almost every one of the stories I write.
That is such a cool memory, Barb! And your imagination…that's what you really wanted to see. You've got to go on safari sometime.
Probably camping with my parents, in particular one summer when we took friends with us who had never camped. The tent leaked on their side, so my parents changed with them -- then it leaked on the other side. Fae, what a terrific, moving, post! It's started me thinking . . .
I don't want to go camping anymore, but I love camping stories, James. I can see your parents' friends after changing around the sleeping bags (in the dark probably) and then drip, drip, drip… You're always thinking, so what do I need to worry about having started?
My grandmother was a quilter, and I wanted so badly to make a quilt. But, I didn't take home ec. because Spanish class and the school newspaper were my electives, so I can't sew much on a machine. I can hand stitch, but it takes forever, and I could never master the tiny 5-6 stitches per inch she did.
I thought buying a pre-cut kit would be easier, especially for a Double Wedding Ring quilt--I didn't pick an easy one--I was in over my head. I brought the kit to my grandma's house and asked for her help. She offered to make it for me, and I said yes. (I was under the impression I was paying her for her services.) When it came time to see the finished product...I'm in tears over this memory...I tried to pay her. She had made a lot of Double Wedding Ring quilts which went all over the country. She refused. It was a gift to me.
It's my most-treasured possession. That and her wedding ring.
Oh, Denise, what a wonderful memory. I wish I could sew, but my mom was really good at it, so I didn't need to learn. (Not so helpful, now that I have her machine but not her.) She never quilted, but her grandmother did. Since Grandma lived to be 102, I knew her. Grandma made pillow covers and embroidered towels for me and tried to teach me how to tat. Over the years, she gave three quilt-tops to my mom.
After Grandma died, my mom found a group of women who would finish the three quilts by attaching backing and doing the quilting by hand. They charged by the spools of thread they used and donated the money to charities. My mother let me pick the one I wanted, and I picked the Double Wedding Ring. It's beautiful. Every time I look at it, I see my mother and her grandmother.
It's not uncommon for the hand quilters to charge by the spools of thread (Some charge by the yard, and some long arm quilters charge by the bobbin). My other grandma had a baby quilt she embroidered quilted by another woman, and that's how she was charged. I have that quilt.
I have other quilts from my grandma, but the Double Wedding Ring is my favorite. She even made me a quilt for my baby dolls. That's in my hope chest.
I'm fortunate to have a lot of quilts. I didn't get gifts other than a dollar or two in a birthday card, five for Christmas, and a roll of pennies when we visited, but I have quilts. That's more precious than any money or tangible type of gift others received.