Thursday, November 24, 2011

Procrastination is the thief of time

For the second (or is it third?) year in a row my post falls on Thanksgiving Day. I originally was going to post on things I am thankful for, traditions and holidays in general. However, Liane’s post, Carpe Diem - Again, struck a note with me. Why? Because I recently missed a great opportunity.

My mother is an excellent storyteller. I spent years sitting at her feet listening to her tell old folk stories animatedly. And though the stories were repetitive, I could listen to them over and over again. I had always dreamed of writing and publishing some of those old stories. Indeed I have written a few. But one of my other dreams was to preserve those stories as told by my mother in her dramatic fashion so that my kids could hear them.

For years I procrastinated. I blamed it on the distance. I haven’t lived in the same area as my mother since 1993. I waited to get a video recorder. I waited for when we were without the distraction of a million family members talking all at once. I waited…

Well my mother is now eighty-one years old and has survived a stroke and a heart attack. I decided it was time to get those stories. So for two weeks when she visited me, I got my video and audio recorder and I tried to get her to tell those old favorite stories with all the gusto that she used to when I was little. But there was a problem: my mother can no longer remember the stories. I had to prompt her and remind her of the stories. I knew there were many more than the few I remembered, but my mother was unable to recall them. I had waited much too long.

I can think of a few cliché’s to sum it up. Chief among them is “procrastination is the thief of time.” I am thankful that I got a few stories out of her, but disappointed that many of the stories are lost forever since the culture of oral storytelling is quickly disappearing.

So I’ll join Liane in saying, “Carpe Diem.”

And well, since it is Thanksgiving, enjoy family, friends, feasts, and turkey. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm sorry to hear that about your mom. We so seldom think of our parents as changing. Until they change.

Liane Spicer said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Jewel.

I know I've been in denial about my mother's aging and the effect this is having on her memory. It's very difficult to come to terms with, and has made me poignantly aware that when she goes, a wealth of knowledge and history will go with her. Lately I'm listening attentively to her reminiscences and thinking of ways to incorporate them in my writing, whereas before I would grow impatient because I'd heard it all so many times before.

'Procrastinator' could be my middle name; it's an issue I struggle with all the time. Now that I'm so keenly aware of mortality, my own included, I'm making every effort to change this old, bad habit of mine.

Even though your mom is forgetting the stories, you remember them. And you're a writer. They won't be lost.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Liane, there is something about oral storytelling that just cannot be captured on the pages of a book. That is why I really wanted to capture the stories on video, so I could have them long after she was gone.

But you are right. As a writer it's up to me to bring those stories alive on the pages of a book.