Today’s exercise is from the unreal Kerri Sackville, mastermind author behind When My Husband Does The Dishes and nutella fan. I have been following Kerri on twitter for about three years now and love her witty banter and genuine nature. This week she has provided WoW participants with the following exercise in Life Writing.
Write On Wednesdays Exercise 12 – The Fight. Kerri says: I am a writer of non-fiction (for now, anyway). In my book ‘When My Husband Does The Dishes…’, I wrote a memoir of marriage and motherhood in as honest way as I knew how. In interviews, I was constantly asked how I felt about revealing so much about myself, and how I knew where to draw the line. I always answered the same way. Every single thing I wrote in that book was 100% true, because without my truth, I had nothing to offer. However, the book didn’t represent 100% of the truth, just as my blog doesn’t represent 100% of the truth. There are personal details of my life, my husband’s life and my kids’ lives that I will never reveal, because we all need to keep something for ourselves. And that’s the key to writing good non-fiction – or one of the keys. You have to be honest, because without honesty, your work won’t speak to people. You have to be fearless, because restraint in writing can be perceived. But that doesn’t mean that you have to bare your entire soul. Choose what you want to share, choose what is relevant to your story. But make sure that what you choose to share is real, and true.
The exercise today is to write a story from your life. And remember: it has to be 100% true, but it doesn’t have to be 100% of the truth. There’s a difference. The keywords are: The Fight.
When I look at these two words there are a few stories that pop into my mind. Some of them are too raw for me to write about yet. I sifted through the memories of my life and again and again I landed on a day from my childhood. It’s a day I have always held close to my heart.
Graveyards have, in truth, have never made me feel truly uncomfortable. Some of my earliest memories are in them, visiting my Pa who we lost when I was five. There’s one particular day in my childhood which I believe will remain etched in my mind always. It was December and it was scorching hot. My Aunt had committed to the task of taking my brothers and I, my cousins and my Nan to visit Pa, making a total of five kids while my Mum sweltered over a hot oven preparing the Christmas dinner my Nan was always so adamant about. I had been many times before and many since but this visit really pierced my heart. I watched as my grandmother stared at her husband’s grave and even in my youth my heart burned for her. I think it was the first time I really understood the gravity of losing somebody you love. My Pa, the man who had sat patiently with me, drawing crocodile smoke and a pipe, I don’t know why he chose to draw that but he did, again and again. Over and over while my Nan yelled at him from the kitchen and it was suddenly dawning on me that he was gone from our lives forever. My Nanna, so forceful, so bossy, stood over her husband’s grave and sadness washed over her. And me.
My memories of him are slim but vivid and the look in my Nan’s eyes that day, so many years ago, was enough for them all to wash back to me.
Last year, during the week before my Nan passed away, my Mum and I visited her and we took along a bunch of flowers as usual and some cherries. Checking with the nurse on the way in, she assured us they were fine, provided we pitted them and peeled them. Mum sat, patiently pitting and peeling, while I chatted with Nan and heard stories of all the people she disliked at the nursing home. Her eyes followed my Mum as she got up and said she was just going to the bathroom. I watched my Nan’s face as she waited for the click of the door then, without a moment’s hesitation, she turned her head to me and said “pass us one of those cherries love”. As I laughed she smiled along with me.
It was the memory of that day in the graveyard, years ago, that hung in my mind when we said goodbye to my Nan last year. I thought about her and that day, how we stopped to buy a carton of cherries from the roadside in typical summer style. I thought about the way she would yell at the cat when she swung by her claws on the back of my Nan’s sundresses and the time she convinced my Mum she had swallowed a fish bone and needed to be rushed to hospital upon which time it was discovered that it was a piece of potato not properly mashed. I thought about how fiercely protective she was of all of us and even when it wasn’t welcome or invited she showed interest in everything we did.
I thought about how much I will miss her and today I am thinking about how much I am and have.
Why did I choose this story? I’m not 100% sure. My grandmother was a forceful woman, not afraid to fight for what she thought was right, what she believed in and for those she loved. She also fought with us, regularly. She was an amazing woman.
This has been a difficult WoW exercise for me and I have struggled with the challenge. Thanks again to Gill at Ink Paper Pen, another successful week!