Tag Archives: memoir

A Nudge from the Red Tent

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant has been gathering dust on a top bookshelf downstairs for at least ten years. I started reading it once but the turned down page corner confirms that I only read to page 9. I started reading it again a few days ago. I am not sure yet whether I will finish it – – but I am underlining in the 4 page Prologue. Anita Diamant has pricked a nerve that needed a prick.

In the 1980s I was diving deeply into genealogy waters – looking for “my women” and finding things I never knew about those “survivors” who nourished my deep North Carolina tap root. I wanted to tell my family, especially my daughters,  about them but only Jim listened to the stories. The others found the chorus of begats boring. Then I stumbled upon storytelling for grown-ups.  I squeezed Jim’s arm one evening when we were listening to a fine storyteller tell about her father – “I am going to do that – – and they are going to come.”

That’s when I say I became a storyteller – although I was born and raised by women who were good North Carolina talkers and I learned to tell stories as they told them.

The second sentence Diamant writes for the character in the Prologue is, “my memory is dust”- meaning her story has not been told.

She goes on –

“If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully.

Stories about food show a strong connecton. Wistful silences demonstrate unfinished business. The more a daughter knows the details of her mother’s life – without flinching or whining – the stronger the daughter.”

There follows a page on what women and daughters share over the chores they do together and then she rocked me again.

” But the other reason women wanted daughters was to keep their memories alive.”

The character says ” I carried my mother’s stories into the next generation —-”

Then, ” I wish I had more to tell of my grandmothers. It is terrible how much has been forgotten, which is why, I suppose, remembering seems a holy thing.” 

The Red Tent is a mid-rash on the life of the Biblical woman Dinah whose story is untold.  Diamant’s reconstruction and re-telling is brilliant. However, I doubt I will finish reading Dinah’s fresh story. Anita Diamant has made me realize that I have a lot of work to do in a shortened time. To tell my story – and to refresh the survivors’ stories I have gathered.

I owe this to my daughters. My grand-daughters need to learn their maternal line stories first, maybe later they will have interest in mine. I don’t expect my grand-sons to have much interest at all – maybe their wives will be curious as I was about Jim’s family.

Grateful to have storytelling to use as a vehicle for sharing the stories.  Perhaps,like Diamant, I will say something that will spur others to look for their stories.

Bethesda Women on You Tube on TEDx

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It wasn’t exactly on my ‘bucket list” but having a chance to tape a TEDx Talk for the internet has been high on my list of things I wished for. Then what do you know  – – Jane O. Smith organizer of TEDxBethesdaWomen invited me to be one of twelve women who were giving talks in Bethesda in December. Our videos went LIVE on You Tube this week.

You are invited to hear “Lively, spirited and sassy”  women share ideas and wisdom on a wide range of topics. The day we filmed there was a full house at Imagination Stage, Bethesda, MD. The audience was bubbling with enthusiastic energy that fostered each one of us to reach for our “gold”.

Jane O. Smith and her committee invited a very diverse group of speakers: a storyteller, the president of a community college, an international newscaster, an internet business guru, several others from business, a young woman who has plans to provide basic personal supplies for women in Africa and 6 others. It was a rich day listening to “talks” filled with insights, wisdom and intrigue.

The title of my talk is “Your Story is Your Legacy” – with the underlying theme that we all have stories to tell.  Since I am a storyteller I took this opportunity  to talk about my ideas on the importance of family and personal stories and to encourage folks to tell their story as a way to be remembered.

This link takes you to all the videos: http://bit.ly/1cBAyqC
Hope you will listen and enjoy!