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Writing Memoir – Records

July 19, 2018


Workshop 1 Page 46 Records

We are instructed to take a document that exists in our life, such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate or school report etc. Ask what has come about because of this document , before or after it’s existence. Instructions are to write for about 10 minutes, and just to write what comes to mind, without re-writing or editing.

Immediately, my son Craig’s death certificate comes to mind. I’ve written about him many times on this blog, and really don’t mean to go on about the subject, but this record has had more impact on my life than any other.

This exercise is very timely as just a few days ago, on 14 July, it would have been my son’s 41st birthday. I had decided that this year, I would give readers a break from the subject and not blog about Craig. I was feeling stress about the decision as I did want to honour Craig, and his memory, as I would normally do. This exercise about a record, has prompted me to change my decision, so it really did come along at the right time.

In my mind, I just cannot imagine Craig at age 41, as he was only 18 at the time of his death.  To me, Craig will always be a teenager. I look at his older brother, my eldest child, and wonder would they be alike. I suspect not, as they were very different people at the time of Craig’s death, and also when they were small children. They were very different in both looks and personality.

Right from the beginning, I loved being a mother, but especially so as they became teenagers and started to develop into the adults that they would later become.  I was fortunate, as until their late teens, when they started to create their own lives, our children enjoyed spending time with us. I do remember feeling quite smug, that some of my friends’ children did all they could to get out of spending time with their parents. I did feel very fortunate and thankful that my children weren’t like that. However, looking back on those days, my smugness does make me feel a little embarassed.

Craig loved bikes and cycling, as I do, and did back then. We would often ride together  after I’d finished work, and he had finished school. As a teenager, Craig loved kids, and they seemed to be drawn to him. Most weekends and summer evenings would see him setting up jumps on the footpath in front of our house. The local kids would be lining up waiting for their turn to ride their bike over the jumps.  Young children were always knocking at our door, asking if Craig was home.

When, I think of the time after this death certificate came into existence,  the words I first think of are sadness, devastation, loneliness, regret, and anger and frustration. Of course, life as it had been before Craig died, continued, and became almost normal again. But it was never quite as ‘normal’ as it had previously been.

Today, even though I feel very sad when I think of Craig, I am able to think about the joy and happy memories he brought into my life, as a baby, a toddler, a young child and as a teenager. I treasure these precious memories that can never, ever be taken from me.

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Craig was just becoming an adult when he died, so it’s difficult to know what he would have been like as a mature adult. However, I do feel sure that by now, at age 41, Craig would have been a father. I feel very sure of that, and I just know, that like his big brother, he would have been a fantastic Dad. vff






The writing exercises in this series are from Patti Miller’s book – Writing True Stories, published in 2017, by Allen & Unwin.

From → family history

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