Over the years I’ve heard a lot of stories about my family, grandfathers and grandmothers, aunties and uncles, which once told, were dismissed and forgotten. Recently, I’ve been trying to excavate this collection of shattered fragments from my tiring memory. When I’m calm and quiet, I try to remember what my mother told me about my grandmother and these days, when on the rare occasion when I’m visiting in the US, I try to get my father to tell me new stories of my grandparents and their time on their ranch in Mexico where he grew up.
These stories are beginning to take form in my head and I’m now trying to commit them to paper. What I’m focusing on now is not the story of how my grandmother met my grandfather or on my mother’s childhood, which what the stuff of nightmares, but on the courtship and circumstances of my grandmother and my Mom’s stepfather, who I’m informed was a kind and generous man. Their romance was not without barriers, but to hear my mother tell the tale, it seemed like one of those stories of love and friendship against adversity.
While I write this narrative, think about some of the stories you’ve heard from your family and try to write them down. Try writing them two ways:
1. Write a short story about a member of your family in the 3rd person, describing them as though you’re telling a story that’s detached from yourself.
2. Write a narrative in the first person as though whoever told you about your family is describing it to you for the first time.