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Writing This Book for my Mom


With my mom 65+ years ago


Published in ChicagoNow, August 31, 2015


When I started this book writing project, I really thought I could do it over the summer. LOL. This kind of writing is so much harder than I thought it would be. In this Monday’s installment of my writing journal (AKA Bridget Jones’s Diary for Seniors), it finally dawns on me why I started this journey. My mother died in April and two months later I started writing a book. These events are definitely connected.


Week 8 – August 5-6 (and a bit here & there over the weekend): Writing time = 10 hours


Back from my mini-vacation and working on those pesky revisions. I was itching to try something new, but forced myself to rewrite the final essay in Belonging about my mother’s last three years living independently for the first time in her life. I really want to do a good job describing her experience at the senior living building and mine as her daughter. I was so proud of her. But I had to admit my first stab at it wasn’t great, so back to the drawing board.


Next up…the Evolving section. Once again, I found myself writing about Mom. Why not admit that she’s the back-story to this book? She constantly hounded me to write one, but I didn’t really launch this effort until after she died. When I started to write my tome, I thought it was about turning 70 in September. And it still is. That’s getting pretty old. But here’s the thing. When I think about that birthday, my first association is how my mother would have made a big deal about it. She was always that way about birthdays and so am I. So, before I let myself get into the part about Loving, which also has an essay about Mom come to think about it, I had to reread what I wrote about how she evolved to love things like Facebook and playing bridge on the computer. For a woman who thought of herself as not-so-smart because she stopped her formal education at high school, I have come to appreciate just how intelligent she was.


Week 9 – August 10-14: Writing time = 20+ hours


Theoretically, I should have had lots of time to write this week. No grandkid schlepping. They were on a lovely vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota enjoying national parks and nature. I was here with my computer and a calendar filled with things I neglected all summer. And I blew the first one. At 8:50 on Monday, I was absorbed in writing a blog post and realized I had a 9:00 annual mammogram appointment. After wasting ten minutes trying to call to see if it was ok to be late, I was told it was. In fact, they were so nice they told me I could have just dropped in for one any time they weren’t too busy. I did spend a decent amount of time working on the Loving section of my book, had a two-hour lunch with my sister-in-law (really catching up), walked my grand-dog Penny, who is staying with me this week, and even cooked dinner. Off to a pretty good start.


Tuesday’s agenda included another trip to the Apple Store for a one-to-one iMovie appointment. Despite going there numerous times to fix my issues with iMovie, much like writing this book, each time I was distracted by a bigger problem. Score. My Apple friend’s second appointment cancelled & we spent two hours fixing stuff and learning how to work the new version of iMovie so I could make copies of my late parents’ videos (6+ hours ending up as four movies, I hope). At the end, he recommended I upgrade to the newest operating system. Of course, this would change everything I knew about the pictures on my iMac, as trusty iPhoto had been replaced by a better (translation, harder for me) program called Photo. Of course, I had to book another Apple adventure to learn how to do something I already had mastered.


After meeting with my trusty adviser, Coach Debbie, Wednesday afternoon, I had the Advocating section to revise. But first, I treated myself to a blog post and a couple of new essays for the Loving section of my book. After writing about loving my husband and grandkids, I thought I should put in a good word for my own children. Then another new idea. I should write a cover page for each section of the book with a brief explanation of what I thought I was doing when I wrote those particular essays. But first, I needed to find the perfect cartoons my friend Marcia had created for me to go with each section. And before I did that, I had to take the plunge and upgrade my computer operating system from Maverick to Yosemite. Who comes up with these names? Before I was a rebel. Now I’m climbing a trail in a national park. Or at least that’s how the new system felt. What happened to my photos? Panic. Oh, there they are. Now I just had to find the “event” with Marcia’s cartoons. Then I had to edit the ones I wanted. Yikes. The editing looked so different. Maybe it could do more stuff. Not really. Same options in a fancier wrapper. Many hours later, I was happy with the result. Or maybe I was just avoiding revising that Advocating section?



Missing my Mom


My mother would have understood my inability to focus on just one thing. She always told me I tried to do too much at the same time. And she was right. She was also my biggest fan who thought everything I wrote was brilliant and worth sharing with her lady friends. Next week, she would have been 92. Yes, I’m writing this book for her.




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by Laurie Levy
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