Friday, May 11, 2012

The Forest and the Trees

Every day when we were little, my mother used to sit my sister and I down on the couch and ask “So, what happened today?”

Now, this may seem like a simple question, but it generally led to at least an hour of conversation. Because when my mom asked about the events of our day, she wasn’t looking for a general overview. She wanted the details.

“So, what happened today?” meant, “Starting with the moment your foot crossed the threshold of this house, please give me a minute by minute description of your thoughts, conversations and reactions, as well as those of the people you came in contact with.”

You’d think that having company at the house would have postponed requests for such detailed recounting, but not if grandma was over. You see, my mom came by her detail oriented-ness honestly. If both ladies were in the house when we got home it was a surefire guarantee there would be more follow-up questions than usual. As my grandmother once joked, “Don’t you know we’re starving for information from the outside world?”

My other grandmother like stories well enough, but they weren't her passion. She loved words. The forest was fine, but she was more interested in the trees. 

She was a whiz at Scrabble. I don’t think there was another activity in the world that she enjoyed more than that game. I played countless games with her over the years and I did not win once. The young age at which I started out and my self-proclaimed irresistible adorability never even came close to prompting her to let me win.

This is not to say that she didn’t help me along in the process. In addition to her handy Official Scrabble Dictionary which was never more than an arms length away, she would also have me show her my tiles and help me find words in them. If we found more than one, she’d help me figure out which would get me the most points. It took time, but I slowly came into my own. And while I never won, there were a few times I gave her a run for her money, without any assistance, which was enough of a victory for me.

Though, sadly, my grandmothers aren’t with me anymore, I still feel their influence. Every time I start to write a story, I always ask myself two questions: Am I offering the right amount of detail to make this world real? Am I making the right word choices?

And every time a story turns out well, I know that they had a hand in that.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend. And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

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