What is it about a death in the family that turns our minds to photograph albums, old letters, and keepsakes? How many of us are motivated by the passing of a loved one to finally take the time to write about our own lives or write about our loved ones? Whether we write poetry or prose, we have this need to put our thoughts and feelings into words. Even those who never thought of themselves as writers get the urge to leave behind something written.
When my brother-in-law, ( a poor description for the man I loved like a second father), died suddenly when I was forty years old, the depth of my despair poured out on paper, verse after verse, until I had covered two pages of a legal pad. Looking back on that writing now, I see it was not much of a poem, but I didn't care if it was ever published. It was my way of expressing grief, honoring him, and feeling the loss I knew would never end.
Death of a loved one brings us face to face with mortality, and we can't deny the fact that we could be gone tomorrow. Have we done what we wanted? Will we be remembered, and if so. what will be our legacy?
We want our lives to be important enough that generations to come will speak of us and tell stories about us or read what we have written and be pleased.
One of my greatest treasures is a video tape my brother, Ray, made and gave to all of us. Several members of our family met every couple of weeks and had dinner. Afterward we pulled out old gospel songs Ray had copied for us, hymns that had great harmony. My husband played guitar and sang along while a couple of us sang alto and two others sang soprano. We had only one tenor but two basses. I'll always remember the happy times we shared and I am grateful he made the videos so we can play them, remember the joy we had, and laugh at ourselves because of the way we looked - not a smile on anyone's face. We were too intent on getting our words right and staying on key.
We all have great memories to write about that will be a treasure for the next generation and generations after that.
Taking writing classes gives one opportunities to experiment on how to capture those memories and how to make them entertaining to the reader.