Slice #11: Choreographed Conversations

It has been a little over a year since Alzheimer’s stole my mother-in-law away. As her birthday approaches, her visits to my memories have become more frequent, filling me with a longing for her boundless optimism and warmth to be present in our lives once again.

Our visits were always met with great joy. Her laughter reached you before the door flew open and outstretched arms swept you into a warm embrace. Cheerful chatter followed you into the kitchen as you glided into conversation sprinkled with exclamations, questions and more laughter. Listening carefully, her hands would shape the conversation.

Clapping her hands together with delight would encourage a faster pace that brought more laughter, more detail. A crescendo was encouraged when throwing both hands up in the air with a tilt of her head and a hearty laugh, while bringing her right hand to her chest or lips would direct you to slow the tempo of your story down and allow you to feel its rhythm. These choreographed conversations brought unity and harmony to our family. I miss them.

Not only did her elegant hands bring music into our lives, they also brought beauty. Gently gripping a pastel, her long fingers would gradually unveil their vision as they moved across the paper – a blend of beauty and emotion to hang in our memory. I miss her presence in the clutter of her studio.

In the last couple of years of the disease, she fell into herself. Our visits found her statuesque in her recliner, her hands still in her lap. Her laughter imprisoned. It was my turn to outstretch my arms and fold her fading body into an embrace. It was my turn to attempt to conduct our conversation and bring beauty into her life.

If I was fortunate, her eyes lit up with recognition and a laugh escaped bringing back great joy. I miss her.

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SOLSC #4: Dear Students

Jack Gantos

Dearest Students,

This morning a generous gift was presented to you. Newbery Award winning author, Jack Gantos, spoke to you about the power of language.

As budding authors, my hope is that you received this gift with gentle hands and gratitude and will handle it with care – appreciating its value until it is worn well with love and care.

Please allow me to open your gift and reveal the splendor of the wise words (paraphrased to a degree) of Jack Gantos…

“READ! As a reader you become 50% of the text. You become the fabric of the book.”

“Reading creates flexibility – you become elastic as you experience the text alongside the characters – it readies you for writing.”

“Language is elastic, manipulate it, twist and stretch it, use it like a yo-yo.”

“You know how you become tired of your writing after 3-4 drafts? Forget about a few drafts, you’re going to revise over a 100 times (This is my personal favorite.)!”

“Focus on the rewrites, they are one of the great joys of writing. You should be able to close your eyes and see the entire story play out in your mind.”

“There are only three things you need to know about writing: content, structure and rewrites. What are you writing about? How are you going to organize your thoughts? How can you make it better?”

“Use dialogue to bring your characters center stage. Dialogue gives your story a 3D effect.”

Accept Mr. Gantos’s gift of wisdom and use it wisely in your writing. I look forward to enveloping myself in the fabric of your writing.

Yours in words,

Mrs. P 🙂