miriamportrait

Kissing.

Mama stirs the oatmeal on the stove. We kids sit around the breakfast table and wait. The tie drawer in the living room creaks. Dad always wore brown suits; every morning he opens the drawer full of brown ties and tries to match them up with what he has on. “Miriam! Will you help me, Dearie?”  We watch as Mama wipes her hands on her apron. She leans into the little mirror propped over the stove and finger-combs her hair back behind her ears.  She smooths her lipstick out and lowers the heat under the oatmeal. She walks down the hallway into the living room.

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I slip off my chair, wait a second, and follow. I hide behind an armchair as Dad clips a tie onto his starched white collar. I watch as he takes a step closer to Mama. “Does it match, Dearie? What do you think? Hmmm?” I see her look up and pull on his collar a bit to adjust the tie. I hold my breath as Dad leans toward her. Then, suddenly, he plants a big kiss right on her lips and squeezes her in a bear hug. I grin as they laugh. Then I tiptoe back to the kitchen as Dad closes the drawer and leaves for the office. Mama comes back to the stove and turns up the heat.

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I don’t recall if they noticed I was watching. All I remember is that the grin that got started early in the morning stayed with me all day. Even now, I’m grinning as I write.

PATTY 4/15/13

 

 

8 thoughts on “Another Story from the Raymond Family Series. This is the version I wrote in front of 4th grade writing workshop students when we were studying the craft of personal narrative and memoir. Like a lot of memories it has a nugget of truth to it. Read it, then check the first comment for further explication. Kisses to you all.

  1. EXPLICATION FROM PATTY

    This scene did not happen much, but when it did I stored the memory up and fed on it, as it were. I wanted this to be the way it always was.

    It was a great story to write in front of a classroom of kids. (It’s called an “It-I-Why” story, as in the first paragraph focuses on the IT, the second on the I to whom it happened, and the last gives a why, as in this is why I’m going to remember this until I’m 99. It’s the so what that we want from memoir and personal narrative too I would hope.)

    I had fun writing this because I liked thinking about them when they kissed. Simple as that, I guess. I’d stop to think, tell little asides, go back to make it clearer. Plus, the emerging story always came out slightly different when I’d go to another writing workshop class, and that intrigued me.

    And all the while that I wrote I was very happy thinking of those times my parents were too.

    Patty

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  2. I often think we remember things the way we want to remember them and that some little piece of truth has allowed us to do that. It is wonderful that even at such a young age you were able to write so well and make a happy memory from whatever the reality was.

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    1. Ah, a little more explication: I wrote “Kissing” as the writing teacher for the 4th graders in writing workshop, so, not so little. It came about because of a teacher I had at Wesleyan, Charlotte Currier. In memoir class, students would often say, “well, this part isn’t exactly the way it happened, but I’m fashioning the text.” Charlotte would have us circle all those parts where we’d made this type of disclaimer. Then she’d give us this assignment: “Go home and research this incident, find some of the other people who were there–figure out if there’s any truth to the circled parts.” And, of course, time and again, one of the other “witnesses” to the incident would say “of course this happened, but to me not you,” or “we used to do it this way all the time, but in the other room,” etc. Another example of writing bringing up something from the deep lagoon of our memory–something we didn’t consciously even think happened. “Fashioning the text” helped us pull the idea up and get it aired.
      Patty

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  3. I never saw my parents kiss. My mom would give my dad a peck on the cheek and he would wince as though it were totally distasteful! Thank God I didn’t take after him!

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