It Takes a Village

Yesterday I attended a memorial service for a distant relative. The service was of the sort where people spontaneously offer stories and tributes, and I learned a lot this woman about from the collective stories told. I had no idea she was a candidate for sainthood. Those who spoke gave glowing testimony to her strength, wisdom, loving nature, helpfulness and dedication. They spoke of the powerful impact she had on their lives. One woman referred to her as a crone (a sage older woman capable of exerting powerful influence).

The tributes showed a side of her I’d occasionally glimpsed, but I never personally witnessed that public side of her. I saw the private, sit at breakfast in your bathrobe and chat over tea side of her. I saw the side of her that railed at ill health, the side of her that grieved over the fact that her sons so seldom visited, the side that despaired over the state of the world. My perception was of a melancholy person and our roles were somewhat reversed from those the others spoke of. She was their confidant, I was hers.

I chose not to speak, unsure how to celebrate that very human side of her alongside her public greatness. In the overall scheme of things, it seemed that her strengths and contributions were what deserve to be memorialized and remembered. At the moment I felt the need to respect the privacy of the moments. Perhaps I did her and the others a disservice by my failure to anchor her feet to the ground, but I think on some level they all knew this.

I could not have seen such a full picture of this woman on my own. It took a village to describe her many dimensions.

We can collect the input of the village of family members to prepare memorial or family history stories of those who came before us. We can also provide a similar sort of village in the stories of our own lives by writing of our relationships with a variety of different people.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal

1 comment :

MagnoliaGirl said...

Hello Sharon,

I was surfing on Absolute Write and bounced on over to your blog. I can't stay in one place too long, ha!

As I write this I sit amongst stacks of printed pages of my mother's e-mails of the last five or so years. She is funny, simply wise, loving, completely unassuming, and Southern (78 years young). I've gotten to know her through e-mails more deeply than I could have ever known her otherwise.

Anyway, I've been percolating (many years) on a way to combine her words, and my words and stories in book form. I want the book to have widespread appeal, hopefully to mothers and daughters (part of the message being that the written word has power the spoken word does not), not just be a recorded history. I have a "tease" of my "upcoming book" on my website: I would welcome and appreciate any suggestions or critique you may have.

I also have ADD which makes completing a big project like this seem insurmountable. Just this morning I thought, "what would I regret if my mother died today?" Of course, it would be that she never got to see her words immortalized.

Sorry to sound maudlin, but it's true and I am in a "kicking myself" mood for being so scattered and unable to finish things!

Anyway, I'm off to read some of your stories now---definitely looks like you have a lot to offer...

Thanks for reading,