Monday, September 21, 2009

from dad

Since I seem to be having trouble doing writing of my own here, I will continue to borrow the words of others. From an email this morning that brought some much-needed encouragement on a very Monday-ish Monday:
I must say that in view of the tough problems (not "issues," not merely "challenges") that you often face, your resilience and ability to manage the things in your life are quite remarkable. You should take a minute from time to time and just remind yourself of that, and draw some well-deserved confidence from the way you have overcome these difficulties. A truly exceptional young woman, as we have known for all these __ years.

Friday, September 18, 2009

birth story, big brother's version

Still in the process of unpacking some of the detritus left in the wake of the move. I came across this draft in Bobby's inimitable handwriting--which in another century might have been called "crabbed." It's undated but I suspect it's from last fall, when his teacher had them work on a "personal narrative."

When my mom told me that she was going to have a baby I was so exited. I hoped that I had a Brother Because we could play legos together. Every day I would ask Mom if the baby was here but she would always answer no. A couple of months later my mom told me that I was going to have a sister. It was ok but I still would love to have a brother.

The 7 to 9 months past really quikly and before you knew it I was a home waiting for Mom to come back from the hospital. I was watching TV eating crackers. Then the phone rang. Dad said we had to drive to the hospital right away. Dad told me that the baby was here and we drove to the hospital in about 100 minhits. When we got there dad went to a room while I waited on a bench. A couple minuits later Dad came out. He said that my sister was going to stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks.

A couple of weeks later dad said that my sister needed surgery because there was a problem with her heart. When she came home I was so happy even if she was a little different. She had somthing called down syndrome that is a problem with her brain. She can still walk and talk but sometimes she just acts weird but to me she's just the same as all of us and she's my sister.

This is, of course, a work of fiction, with the concomitant inaccuracies and reworkings of time. Bobby was all of 22 months when Stella was born nearly 8 years ago. Yet somehow he chose to write about this event that he couldn't possibly remember in any sort of chronology or detail. I do recall his coming to the hospital, but he wasn't left sitting on a bench unattended. He was in a small "family room" watching a Schoolhouse Rock video, his latest obsession, while parents and grandparents took turns donning the pale yellow gowns and scrubbing up with acrid-smelling soap to enter the NICU.

Now that I'm starting a new season of Creative Nonfiction, my students and I are once again talking about the unreliability of memory, about truth vs. fact, about our version vs. someone else's. Somehow, I think, despite getting the "facts" mixed up, my son has captured a certain truth about his sister's birth and its impact on his life.