Monday, August 29, 2011

Looking Back on My Time with Nancy

As a writing teacher, I often have my students write memoir/nonfiction pieces. In the beginning, most students want to write strictly about themselves.
One of the lessons I teach them is that other people help shape who we are through their words to us, their actions, or their lack of action.
Your assignment for this week is to write about a memory of yourself WITH someone else.
Need a way to start?
This is what I give my students…
His/her name was ______________________ and looking back now, I realize….
Remember, it’s MEMOIR, so it needs to be about YOUR experience with this person and it needs to be TRUE.
Let’s keep it to 600 words or less.

Her name was Nancy, and looking back now I realize she was one of the bright spots in my shadowed world. She was my mother in law.

The first time I met her I was 15. And as a typical 15 year old I didn't think she liked me. So, of course her son decided to share that with her. The next time I saw here she handed me a bouquet of flowers. And from then on, I knew not only did she like me, but she loved me.

She was a beautiful woman. My daughter reminds me so much of her. She had this exotic beauty. It is pretty amazing all that we experienced together. I saw so many sides of her over the years. I was her friend, her daughter, and her daughter in law all wrapped in one.

She had a mischievous side. She would get this smile and you knew she was up to something. She had a serious side, a quiet side, a silly side...and a deeply spiritual side.

It is that spiritual side that impacted my world more than any other. She wasn't perfect, she made mistakes, she made poor choices....but she always showed her love of God, and when she needed forgiveness for those poor choices she was open and honest about it.

As a young girl I was very confused by things that were spiritual. She saw that in me. She took the time to share with me, allowed me to challenge her and allowed me to feel and express my frustration with all the different ideas that had been presented to me. She was patient and took the time to walk me through the confusion. She presented the greatest gift of all to me...she showed me and helped me to understand that it wasn't about churches, rules, was about a relationship. She showed me in words, and in deeds.

She stood by me as I grew in that walk. She was there to pick up the pieces when I made the wrong turns. Nancy always loved me through. She loved me through the struggles of a young marriage and its mistakes, even though it was her son I was married to. An outsider looking in wouldn't know that I was the daughter in law, they would be certain I was hers.

One of my most spiritual moments in my life was at the end of her life. We all gathered in the hospital room. She had hung on until we all arrived. And then the singing began. Beautiful songs covered the air. A spirit filled that room, you could feel it all around you. A peace entered into the sorrow and loss we were experiencing, and the smile on her lips as she left us helped us to know she was entering into a place she was ready for....she was headed home.

Nancy left so much behind for me. Even now, divorced from her son, and all the scars left from it. Nancy resides, her spirit and soul, deep in my heart. Her love still speaks to me. I look forward to the day when I can run into her arms again and thank her for all she has meant to me.


  1. I loved my mother-in-law so much too and she loved me. I miss her every day. Wonderful post of a lovely godly woman.

  2. Very very sweet! It's amazing the impact people have on our lives, just by living theirs!

  3. Beautiful tribute. I never really got to know my MIL as she died shortly after we married.

    I love this paragraph: "It is that spiritual side that impacted my world more than any other. She wasn't perfect, she made mistakes, she made poor choices....but she always showed her love of God, and when she needed forgiveness for those poor choices she was open and honest about it."

    What a blessing to have that modeled for you!

  4. What a beautiful story! We should all be fortunate to have someone like that come into our lives.

  5. First, I want to say that I applaud your efforts here. Way to follow your heart and try to grow your gift. You clearly have an "eye" for story. You did a good job here telling what was important to you about Nancy. An idea for engrossing your reader further in your subject is to bring them into it with you by telling just one scene that "sums up" your subjection. In this instance you could describe a day with Nancy or a couple of events with Nancy and we could see her from your eyes as if we were in the scene. Look at Tiaras and Trucks post for today for a great example of how to do that. You will be able to SHOW us all of the great stuff you just TOLD us about Nancy. Please keep up the great writing. You're really doing good work.

  6. @julie

    Julie thanks, I consider myself lucky to have known her. Thanks for your compliments.

  7. @NC Narrator
    Very well put NC, that is exactly what she did, impacted me with the life she lead. Thanks for the sweet compliments!

  8. @Melanie
    Thanks for pointing out the part you liked most, and for your sweet words. She was truly a blessing!

  9. @Yvonne
    Thanks for calling me writing beautiful, such a compliment! And she was such an amazing lady!

  10. @Amy a/k/a HonestConvoGal
    You couldn't be more right about your comments. Thanks for the things you point out. I have to be honest, I was just pushing myself to write, and it took a lot to post this one...knowing it wasn't what it should be. I would give myself the very same concrit you did. I went back to work teaching a few weeks ago, and the writing has come to an abrupt stop. I need people just like you pushing me, improving me and helping me to get better...and to keep working at it! Thanks so much!!

  11. What a blessing to have her in your life. How lovely that one of the things you can take from your divorce is that you truly were impacted positively by your MIL.

    I love the anecdote about the flowers. It shows what kind of person she was :)

  12. A lovely tribute. I have a similar relationship with my mother-in-law. It's a rare thing for women to love their MILs. You are blessed.

  13. I blessed with someone like that in my life as well. It's amazing how people can change our lives and never even mean to. That was a beautiful story!


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