Memoir in progress
A few years ago, I made the decision to leave my career as an HR executive after spending the previous 15+ years working in progressively more challenging roles. I always knew I wanted to write, but my career had taken me elsewhere. After graduating with my degree in Creative Writing, I landed a full-time job as a Human Resources professional with a plastics manufacturing company. I wrote on the side for newspapers and for myself, focusing on short stories and creative non-fiction, but as it turned out, I had a knack for HR. For the same reasons that my writing was generally well received, my HR work was as well – I understood people, and how they responded emotionally to situations and change.
In September of 2015, my mother suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. She was fifty seven years old. It was a shock to lose her this way – before I even knew I was losing her, before I had the chance to give her a grandchild, before I could tell her what she meant to me, before I could understand what it was to be a mother.
After she passed, I discovered boxes of my mother’s writing – folders on her computer and typed personal journal entries; in boxes, there were spiral-bound notebooks and hard-cover notebooks filled with her handwritten poems, short stories, and musings about life, motherhood, and daughterhood dating back to her teenage years. I began furiously typing up the handwritten copy. As I wrote, I couldn’t help myself from writing my own reflections and discoveries along the way, marveling at the things I was learning about this woman I called “Mom” that she never told me when she was alive. There was a lot to read, and I was still a very busy woman at work, so it wasn’t until the spring of 2017 that I came across this journal entry:
“There will come a day when I watch this family from afar, unreachable. Someone, aching to see, feel, touch me one more time will comb over my left behind belongings, hoping to grasp a trace of the me I used to be. Should it be Annie, I hope she writes my story.”
Here was the answer to a question I didn’t even know I had, in this one journal entry. I was meant to be writing this. She had the courage to have a voice, even if it was buried in her laptop or in a box in the attic. I had the ability to bring her voice to life. I could write her story, our story.
I gave my notice at work and began a new dual career: becoming a mother and writing our story.
My memoir-in-progress is a conversation between my late mother and I: her poems and essays inspire my own, and in the work of trying to understand her through reading the words she left for me, together we deepen our mother/daughter relationship.