Today I lunched on asparagus soup as October shed her wet and windblown clothes. Another season concludes, the divide wider between my childhood and present day. A challenge for a writer devoted to memoir, to sustain authenticity of times, places, things, and people.
Memory often serves me well. Yet, as we all know, she’s prone to embellish the truth. Just ask my four sisters and I to tell you the same story we all experienced in the same place at the same time, and you’ll see my point.
We human beings perceive specifics differently: who, where, what, why, and when. If we misrepresent one of the five w’s, we slant our history.
Most readers understand memory’s limitations. They forgive an author’s minor embellishments in such remarkable memoirs as Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes.
Nonetheless, at times I grope for the right word to describe the person, emotion, and circumstance. For me, this condition is not writer’s block, rather, fussing over uncertainties. God forbid I misspeak.
Although I couldn’t recall Camille Makuch’s siblings, that didn’t confirm my childhood lookalike and best friend was an only child. My online searches the past ten years led nowhere but discouragement.
Glory hallelujah! While puzzling out a memoir passage from patchy mental pictures of Camille’s mother, the still, small voice I’ve come to trust suggested I open my red scrapbook again.
Most likely provided and preserved by my mother, I can’t recall who placed the fragile, abused keepsake into my hands after her death. Splotches of dry glue on many pages indicate someone tore mementoes from my treasure.
My object of pursuit was a birthday card which says “Making a birthday call to say Hello!” illustrated with three kittens and a telephone. Inside, Mrs. Makuch signed, “Happy Birthday Iris! Camille Makuch & her parents.”
Unaware of Mrs. Makuch’s first name, I searched online for Camille Makuch’s obituary, which delivered Eleanor Makuch’s obituary, Camille’s mother.
Born the same year as my mother, Mrs. Makuch’s children included Camille and two siblings who live in Michigan. They lauded their mother as a marvelous Polish cook who retired at age 81 from the Detroit Public Schools.
Yes, this made sense. Camille and I rode our bikes together on Joann Street south of Seven Mile Road. Our mothers forbade us to leave our block.
Several online links confirmed Camille’s occupation as an RN in the Okemos area. And one link provided her home address.
Thrilled with these revelations, I retrieved a greeting card from my mother’s secretary. Ceremoniously, I introduced myself to the playmate who also wore her hair in a bob.
If the address is correct, Camille should receive her card Monday, November 1.
Dear Reader, Mrs. Makuch’s birthday card and others from Granny, my Sunday school teacher, and Pioneer Girls leader bridge the divide of time.
Perhaps this explains why I’ve accumulated plastic bins of cards I’ve received throughout my life. What better way to review the five w’s of my personal history in my sunset years?
Contact Iris at firstname.lastname@example.org.