Experience and Ideas

This weekend was filled with surprises, some tender and heartfelt, others bazaar and scary. I was affected personally by all happenings, but I was also stirred as a writer because with each experience came a goulash of ideas.

On Saturday, Don and I had lunch with my 90 year old grandfather, two aunts and an uncle. After lunch, my aunts gave me some wonderful gifts. First was a picture of my mother when she was about seven years old. I was 23 when she died of lung and liver cancer. As I looked into her clear smiling eyes, I was reminded of how much I miss her, and how I have been blessed with a likeness to her in both looks and character. Even though my mother was 42 when she died and has been gone almost 22 years, I have experienced a continuing relationship with her, especially with comparisons of my life to hers. So many questions came to mind- how does my relationship with my mother live and breathe today? What influence has she had in my life, and what influences does she have now? And, what would life be like if my mother were still like today?

My aunts also gave me my mother’s baby book, which contained the story of her life from birth to three years old. As I read through the pages, I sensed the joy of first motherhood in my grandmother’s beautiful cursive. How proud she was as my mom grew to a three years old, with each step, each new word, and all of her cute sayings. As I read, I began to wonder- what was motherhood like in 1942 during World War II? How were birthdays celebrated during such trying times as the war? What type of gifts did children receive, or were families too poor to give gifts?

By late afternoon, Don and I were in the car on the way home. We talked about places and things, joys in our lives and, most appropriately, the upcoming Christmas season. In fact, just before I saw the headlights coming straight for us, we were talking about whether or not we wanted to get a Christmas tree! By the grace of some angel (who may have been my mother or my grandmother), I was able to hit my breaks and pull my car over to avoid the driver on the wrong side of the road. Perhaps it was that same angel (or angels) who made sure no cars were behind me to get the impact of that crazy driver. Once we had regained composure, I looked at Don and said, “Yep, I think we ought to get that Christmas tree!”

It’s amazing how such a brief, small experience was so life changing. All I could think about was that nobody was hurt because of the stupid choice of a driver on the wrong side of the road, and how my life is truly blessed. But, what would have happened if I had not been able to avoid the other driver? Or, after avoiding the crazy driver, what if there had been a car full of people behind me who were not so lucky?

The final bazaar event of the day was receiving a Christmas card from a family I did not know. I looked the telephone number of the family up and gave them a call. The woman who answered explained that her husband gave her a list of people to send Christmas cards to and my name was on the list.

“But, I don’t recall knowing your husband,” I said. “Please refresh my memory.”

“He said he knows you from the Starbucks down by Safeway,” she explained.

I told her I didn’t go to Starbucks by Safeway, but I thought I knew what had happened. There is another person in town with my name who I have received telephone calls for over the years. We are both listed in the phone book with our first initial and last name. I have been told by people who have called my number, thinking it was her they were calling, that I sound a lot like her. I have often wondered what this other person with my name is really like. What does she look like, what type of work does she do? Does she ever receive any of my phone calls?!

It’s interesting how one day can spring forth so many story ideas, but ideas are also waiting to be discovered within mundane experiences. My advice- treasure each experience, keep your notepad and pen with you at all times and don’t forget to write it down.

© 2006 Susan Littlefield

One thought on “Experience and Ideas

  1. I read from some Finnish magazine a story. It was about 2 women with identical names. One got mail meant for other. And those two had to exchange mails at times. And then…something happened. What, that I never found out.


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