Number one on the list was "Gather up some pictures and choose one to write about." My goal after work was to search through the rest of the moving boxes in my office closet and find the reunion photos of Cousin Hattie.
Then, I read Lisa Alzo's article, "Writing One Ancestor at a Time." Suddenly, I wondered,
How does one go from being a cousin to becoming an ancestor?
This is one of the questions my memoir will answer.
Week 1 Assignment: Outline Story
- "Write a paragraph summary on Day 1."
- Create an outline & expand it into chapters and scenes.
- Looking at the pictures of Hattie, answer the questions Who, What, When, Where, Why & How? Tell as much about the ancestor as possible, as much as you know based on the picture in front of you, your memories and any genealogy data you've collected.
In the early evening just a couple months before the family reunion, I was sitting at my desk, working on a family history assignment for the committee when the unexpected ring of the telephone startled me.
"Hattie? I'm so glad you called! I've been trying to get in touch with you."
" Yes, I know. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I've been ill. They found a spot on my lung and I've been getting treatments."
"The doctor said it looks good. I'm just so tired all the time. I'm having some problems with my blood pressure."
"Will you be going to the reunion?"
"I'd like to...but I'm not sure if I'll be able to go."
In that moment of silence, a wave of fear seized me. Hattie had been the chairperson of the first George Family Reunion committee in 1989, and as family historians, we share a special bond.
"I want to meet with you after the reunion at my house to show you family documents...but only if all the siblings come."
All the siblings. That would be difficult. My husband's oldest brother remains in his hometown in western Pennsylvania on Lake Erie. His next brother was in the process of moving his family from Georgia to Florida; and, his sister, the youngest and only daughter, lived in Chicago. How could I get them all to come together in North Harlowe?
"But what if some can't attend?"
"Only if they all come! I have seen too many times one try to grab the land from the others, and I have gone to court too many times, and I will not do it again. This is heir land. And your husband is an heir. And so are his siblings."
Heir land. I had never heard of that before....
Word Count: 315
I have learned several things on Day 1:
- Not having all your information readily on hand slows down the process.
- Trying to recall the nuances of tone and emotion from an event experienced several years prior can be difficult.
- Working late at night after a full day's work makes my eyes and mind excessively tired.
- If I am not able to change my writing routine on a regular basis, I may have to alter my word count goal.