Divine Moments Back in the Hills

Family. Home. What is left after parents are gone and you set out to find your life in the terrain that opens around you?

I have returned for my annual writing retreat at The Big Six Country Club, our family cabin in the Sandhills of Nebraska. The book I write unfolds before me. Writing memoir is the act of making sense of your life, and I am in the heart of making sense of the last years as my mother became ill and then died, and the choices I made in those months surrounding that loss. Once again I am reminded, as I craft sentences and jockey events into scenes, that it is through storytelling that we invent our understanding of what it all meant.

Here I am with brother Billy who has come up to the cabin for a weekend visit, to do what we had been putting off for over a year, the spreading of my mother’s ashes. In a divine moment of surprise, a neighbor friend showed up as we were returning to the yard of the cabin. We had just walked back from The Point, a piece of land with a view of the north end of the lake and the marsh, a place our mother loved. The neighbor walked into the yard hoisting a camera. She’d had a notion, she said, to walk over to The Big Six and capture an image of the brother and sister who own it.

Life at this old place of memory is full of such divine moments.


Related Posts

Is It Okay to Begin Writing a Memoir and then Turn It Into a Novel?

Is It Okay to Begin Writing a Memoir and then Turn It Into a Novel?

Sometimes the story we begin writing outgrows the boundaries of memoir and branches away from the task of reconstructing real people and lived events and leaps imaginatively into invention—first, invention of little this’s and that’s, and then (oops!) into the invention of bigger this’s and […]

Thinking About Truth and Your Family When Writing Memoir

Thinking About Truth and Your Family When Writing Memoir

Concerns about hurting family and friends are some of the most worrisome for memoirists. My advice? Quit obsessing about it and get on with the writing. Plenty of would-be memoirists have stopped themselves before even getting started, due to such concerns, and many who have […]