Christmas of 1976, I gave my mother an Abbey Press writing book titled SEASONS OF MYSELF. Through the years, she penned several stories on the blank pages of her book, including one story about “Marrying The Right Man.” In it she changed the names and some details, but the emotional truths stayed the same. This was long before her dementia, and she had a talent for writing honest, compelling tales.
Mom had told me of her junior year in college, when two very different but equally wonderful young men wanted to marry her. In the end, she of course chose the man who later became my father, but a great deal of solitary thought and prayer—and wondering What If?—had gone into her decision. Reading the story and remembering her process taught me to pause with my own writing ideas and spend time considering the many possibilities of “What if?”
In response to her story, I asked myself what if Mom had chosen the “other guy”? How would her life story have been different? And what would have been my story, the stories of her grandchildren and great-grand-children…and so on? What if? Hmm.
On the back cover of the “Write your Own Book,” the publisher offers suggestions for uses and also shares quotes of famous writers. My mother put two check marks by Catherine D. Bowen’s quote: “Writing is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living.” Later in the journal Mom wrote that quote again and defined it this way: “Double does not mean double dealing or double cross, but in having twice the usual size, strength, consideration and power for understanding.”
September 28th is “Ask A Stupid Question Day.” Instead, maybe we should ask a smart question—What If?—and then write our own responses so we can experience the best kind of double living.