Monday, February 19, 2007
One of them remembers living above a general store in a small Midwestern town. She has begun her writing project with a basic description of the place.
Instructor Carol Jacobson probes to find more detail - what could she see from the front door? What did the street look like? What did the store smell like? From those answers, the writer will craft a description that will bring her girlhood home to life for anyone who reads her narrative.
Another writer begins by listing facts - tersely and without many adjectives. She finds that she can add color to her writing and still keep the accuracy that is important to any history. Yet another relates a family anecdote from her girlhood.
Living history is one thing we all do - writing it in a way that captivates readers and makes them want to turn the page to learn more is another. The students in the Living Well seniors' writing group are learning to do just that. They take fragments of their unique experiences and weave them into a living history to share with their families and friends.
Jacobson, a professional writer and experienced instructor, leads the group in discussion of each story presented. There is often surprise when a writer reads her story aloud for the first time and realizes that it paints a picture for the rest of the class.
Jacobson enjoys teaching the class because, "There are really great stories in Moffat County." She wants to make sure that at least some of those stories are preserved for the generations to come.
"Everyone has a story to tell," Jacobson continued. "The hardest part is getting over the fear of doing it. Older people understand grammar, they were all taught the same way. In this class they learn to find their own voice."
JoAnn Quade if one of those using her own voice to document her family history for her 14 great-grandchildren.
"My parents and sister are dead, as are all of my uncles and aunts and many of my older cousins. I am the only person alive who can record some of the history of my family and the homestead where I grew up," Quade said. "I also have a special great-granddaughter and have been thinking about her when I write some of the information."
Writing for a particular person often makes the words flow easier and the writing students are discovering that their history is important to those around them.
In addition to her writing, Quade is enrolled in a Spanish class at CNCC and translates some of her writings into Spanish. She and several others in the class also take part in the exercise class offered on Wellness Wednesdays. She spends her Saturday mornings hauling paper, cardboard, plastic and cans collected in her apartment building to the recycling center in Craig. Sundays find her involved in church activities.
For the past two years, Quade and her Miniature Poodle, Bijou, have been a certified Delta Society therapy animal team and as such make regular visits to The Memorial Hospital and Sandrock Ridge Care. During those visits, she often explains to people the healing benefits of the human animal bond.
The class is one of many that are offered free of charge to seniors 50 years and better during "Wellness Wednesdays" each week at the American Legion in Craig.
Whether you are interested in learning to write in your own voice, or prefer painting, swimming or exercise classes, there is something for everyone. Each week's free lunch is accompanied by a presentation of special interest to seniors who want to stay healthy and active.