Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My First Writing Assignment

My ward has a writer's group.  I joined.  The first time it was just me and Sally.  When we left she gave me an assignment.  (she is afterall-- a teacher).  I thought about it for a month.   I wrote it a little after midnight last night and brought it to writer's group tonight.  There were now 3 of us Sally, Deborah, and me.  I thought I would share it with all of you. 

Assignment : What do you see when you look in the mirror

I was 18 the first time it happened, just a freshman in college. And I didn’t actually say them but I heard the words nonetheless. I was enjoying some down time with one of my hobbies – making cards with rubber stamps and glitter—when I needed some scissors to cut out a design. I opened my desk drawer and quickly turned the contents over, but the scissors were not there. I asked my roommate about them; she shrugged and shook her head. So I reached up for my new sewing kit and the bright blue handled scissors that were inside. The sewing kit was a graduation present from my Mom’s best friend. But I was pretty certain I would never need it. I had tried to sew before and always gave up-- finding the task too difficult; so I knew that kit was going to sit unused for a long time. My fingers were in place and as I started to make that first cut, I heard her-- right there in my dorm room. Even though I knew she was 1500 miles away, I heard her. “If you cut paper with your sewing scissors they will get dull.” She didn’t yell at me. She didn’t even correct me. She just reminded me of the facts- the simple cause and effect that would happen. I listened. I stopped what I was doing and set the scissors back in their box – safe.

Over the next few years there were many times I heard her in my head reminding me, but at least for a little while it was my little secret.

I was 20 the first time I remember hearing her words come out of my mouth-- a young newlywed. My mom always called my dad “honey” and it always seemed a little saccharine to me. But there I was one day saying, “Honey, let’s go!” and “I love you, Honey”.

And over the years the more I started to sound like her. I sang the same songs to my babies that she sang to me. I told the same stories that she told, like Fluffy the cloud. When I visited her house and answered the phone it always took me a while to stop the person talking and let them know I was not her. “But you sound just like her” they always answered back.

And the more I sounded like her, the more I wanted to sound like her. I don’t remember her yelling as much as I do. I don’t remember any sarcasm in her voice.

But I was really unprepared for what happened next.

I remember the moment pretty clearly. It was late. I was tired. I was in the bathroom in my pajamas just finishing brushing my teeth. I was smiling and vigorously brushing my front teeth while staring at the bottom of the sink. I spit and then glanced up at the mirror to check out my teeth, when I saw her. I blinked and then looked into the mirror harder, but she was gone. I had to close my eyes to remember what I saw and it was unmistakable. I saw the mom of my youth. The smile lines starting to form around my eyes, the crystal clear blue eyes that could see right through you, the slight puffiness from too many late nights and early mornings, the premature gray hair now a half centimeter showing again, the bow shaped lips and the laugh lines around them, and I was amazed.

Not only do I sound like her, but I look like her too.

And the crazy thing-- I am OK with it.


Laura said...

Jamie where do you talents end? :)What a beautiful piece of writing. And it's so true, for years we don't want to be like HER but eventually we wish we could be more like HER. Thanks for sharing! :)

Kelli said...

that was so sweet!

Valerie: said...

That really was a beautiful post...I'm sure your mom loved it! It actually made me cry!

The Nixon Family said...

well written! i can just picture you staring into that mirror! you are awesome! I want to start a writing group too. i think i just might! even if it is just me...

E T Mack said...

Love this! You have definitely got a talent! I so wish I was more like my mother too. She is a rock-- can weather any storm. So glad you wrote about all of this.

Tami said...

Okay Jami, you need to change the name of your blog to something like "like mother, like daughter". Or another generation of women (or girls) Or something catchy about women, daughter's, girls.

Lynn said...

Well done. This is especially great because it is true of us all. I remember a friend who often commented how she was like her Mother. In later years she found she had been adopted. It was quite a blow but I reminded her that it didn't change anything; she was still like her Mother but by choice not by genetics. Wonderful love stories !