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Two little people I still love
The two little people in this photo are my children, David and Bonnie. It was taken years ago on a crisp autumn morning in Tucson. They have disappeared into adults now with small children of their own. But I am grateful I can call them back in all of their incarnations through the photos, diary entries, and journals I've saved. In part, this is why I document  my life. 

Last week I talked with my cousin, Linda, in Delaware. Her mom, an aunt I also loved like a mother, died earlier this year. Linda is faced with cleaning out her mother's house and disposing of the things she kept over the years. As we talked and she read me letters her mother had kept, I realized that my aunt had documented her life by the things she'd saved. My cousin had access to a part of her mother she hadn't fully realized during her mother's life. Linda was surprised and awestruck by the things her mother was still teaching--the profound impact of this one, seemingly simple, life.

I've belonged to a book club for more than twenty years. The five other women in the group have become much more than friends. The books we've read have led us into discussions that reach far beyond the scope of any given book. For this month's selection, we read Kent Hauf's new novel, Benediction. It was about one good man's death. The story was powerful in the simplicity of its telling and the depth of the love of his wife of more than half a century.  

Everyone dies. It is a simple and predictable act.  And yet profound in ways none of the living can fully know. We are fascinated, a little frightened and more than a little curious. I suppose another reason we document our lives is to leave something of ourselves behind--something that might speak of our unique place in the cycle of life.

Three days ago, I discovered Catherine Ryan Hyde, another writer who writes simple and profound stories. I have already read When I Found You and Don't Let Me Go. Both stories are very simply told, yet profound. I laughed and I cried through these books and long after I turned the last page, I was haunted by them, still carrying them around inside me. Hyde also wrote Pay it Forward from which the very popular movie was made. Did any of us know, or remember that Hyde wrote that incredible story? Most of us probably did not. 

Perhaps acknowledgement isn't nearly so important as the ideas she got down on paper--the message she and Kent Hauf are giving all of us through their writings. They are documenting, over and over, what they have deemed to matter most. Take stock of your life. Document it. Examine it. And discover beauty in the everyday. Find the people and the things you love and hold onto them.



08/04/2013 11:32am

I was blessed to interview my mama on her 100th birthday. At that age she was unafraid to reveal some personal truths and family secrets she had long stuffed. Now, I am the keeper of secrets and need to decide which to share with the rest of the family and which to hold on to.

08/04/2013 2:40pm

Being the keeper of the family secrets is not an easy job. We think that truth should always be told. But sometimes I wonder if there are circumstances where it is best untold. How wonderful that you could celebrate 100 years with your mama. I'm envious.

Linda Wilkinson
08/04/2013 2:56pm

You always put the thoughts of a heart so beautifully onto paper. Your words were exactly what I was feeling when I shared her precious memories with you. You are amazing. So proud as always y

Linda Wilkinson
08/04/2013 2:58pm

...so proud as always you are first my Friend and second my cousin.

Carol Rutter Clough
08/04/2013 5:06pm

Bonnie looks so much like you in this picture. I remember when. I am always touched and inspired by your blogs. Keep writing them. I will now have to get the books by Katherine Ryan Hyde

Martha Ragland
08/06/2013 1:23pm

So beautifully put, Susan. I'm glad to learn of these wonderful books.

08/07/2013 10:20pm

I think of all the questions I want to ask my parents, but now it's too late.

05/21/2015 10:58pm

Linda is faced with cleaning out her mother's house and disposing of the things she kept over the years.


In fact, education also gives him the useful and effective knowledge about the present and past incident to make his life easier. Education is the greatest source of knowing our past sufferings to make our future bright.

02/21/2016 2:08pm

Kudos to your ever improving ability to express these homespun thoughts with such timeless clarity and vision. This “moment in time snapshot” remains one of my fondest memories of David and Bonnie. Your ability to broaden and challenge a reader’s complacency within these blogs and your other works (all of which should be required reading in “somebody’s Literature class somewhere”) reminds me of one of a Kent Haruf’s stated axiomatic expressions: “I'm attempting to broaden my novels' scope through landscape and weather, leaves falling off trees, overnight storms, timeless elements which, irrespective of human endeavor, have always been there and, as long as there is life and snow, will always be there.”

Surprisingly, thus far in my life, I’ve found it easy to meditate daily but almost impossible find the inclination to journal and document my life. Maybe it’s because I try to ensure that those who are never not with me don’t really need me to do it for them and I haven’t figured out when it’s time for me to do it for me when the works of many others, like Catherine Ryan Hyde, in Take Me with You do it so well for those of us who remain open to positivity in this great big beautiful world: “The way you feel is the way you feel, and no matter how much you think you should feel some other way, you can’t change that. There’s some things in this life you can change and some you can’t. I’m sure August tells you the same thing. Here’s what you do when the time comes to talk to your dad. Here’s what I do. I say to my creator, ‘I’m about to open my mouth here. And, historically, that’s been a dicey thing, as we both know. So some help is in order. So let me know what you want me to say to this person in this situation. Say it through me.”

So thanks for doing some “speaking out” in behalf of all.

07/18/2016 12:35pm

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