Friday, July 20, 2012

My Most Important Writing - Eleanor Shepherd

 As writers, we recognize our words have power.  We recall the many times, we have enjoyed new experiences, been challenged to change or fit new ideas into our worldview as a consequence of reading and thinking about what others have written.
What do you consider has been your most important piece of writing so far?  Is it a magazine article you wrote, the one an acquaintance sent you an email about, telling you that her life had been so profoundly changed by what you wrote, she clipped the article and has been carrying it around in her wallet?  Is it a piece that you did for your local paper on a current social issue that you found out was one of the elements gathered by a community group to spark a local initiative to address the situation?  Is it your contribution to an anthology like Hot Apple Cider that connected you with many fellow writers who shared with you their identification with your situation?  Is it a chapter in your Award Winning Book that a new friend you met at a book signing told you enabled them to have a completely new understanding of listening?  For me, although these kinds of encouragements have been great affirmations of my ability to write, my most significant writing so far was probably the hand written notes that I used to leave behind with the babysitter when my husband and I were obliged to be away from our children for a few days.  I came to understand this last week.
As my daughter and I sat chatting and playing Scrabble together after we put her little one down for the night, she said to me out of the blue, “Mom, I am so grateful for those notes that you used to leave for us when we were kids and you had to go away.”  “I hated it when you had to be away from us and I loved reading your notes.”  She has been reflecting frequently about the things that we do as parents since her little daughter was born nine months ago. 
As I see my little granddaughter, Sanna constantly seeking the smiling approval of her mother, I remember that time just a few short years ago, when her mother looked up into my eyes with the same seeking for assurance that I would care for her and all would be well.  It just keeps going round. 
            When my children were young and I was preparing to be away from them for a few days, I would take some time write them notes, seal them, address them and put them in envelopes with the date marked on the envelope that the note was to be opened.  There was at least one note for each day, sometimes two – one for morning and one for evening.  The notes reminded the children that their Daddy and I were thinking of them.  I told them how important they were to us and how proud we were of them.   I tried to find a cartoon or a puzzle or something to entertain them to include with my note.  Interestingly, when I mentioned these things to Elizabeth, she did not even remember the trinkets.  What meant the most to Elizabeth were the words that I had written just for her, letting her know that I was thinking about her. 
            There were times when I used to think I was preparing these notes for me, to ease my own guilt about leaving my children.  That may have been the case.  I was unaware of the power of my words to comfort and reassure my daughter of my love.  I did not realize that by taking the time to write these simple notes to my young children I was helping to solidify the most important bonds that define my life today, those chords of love that link generation to generation. This writing has had an impact and is being remembered.  If these are criteria for the importance of our writing, then these notes, perhaps insignificant to others, that have been read only by my children qualify as my most important writing so far.    
Winner of 2011
Word Guild Award
Award of Merit 2009
Word Guild Award

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Thank you Eleanor for these very personal reflections from your experience as a thoughtful and caring mother.
As to your introductory question about our "most important" piece of writing: although perhaps rhetorical in the context of your article, at the moment I don't really know. However, the question causes me to think and review.
Yes, our words do have power. May they be used -- as your loving words were -- for wholesome encouragement, comfort, and affirmation in all that's good.

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