Personal Narrative, by Loretta Grant

When Loretta was working on her personal narrative, she started by making a various timelines of how her story could go. Eventually she settled on this one:

  • In the boat
  • Lindsey as a baby
  • Lindsey at 10
  • Lindsey at 17
  • Lindsey at 26, the age I was when I had her

Once she had her timeline, she just typed right into it, stretching each part out with lots of detail (dialogue, actions, thinking, and images). 

This is the same process that lots of students can benefit from when planning a story, then drafting.

  • In the boat  

My beautiful daughter sat in the bow of the boat talking to me, as her husband and children enjoyed a perfect day on the Mediterranean. Three boats lashed together filled with her friends and children.  She held the youngest of her three children easily, soothing him whenever he needed her. She talked about vacations in Croatia, holidays, and people I didn’t know.

The words started to blur and soften in my ears and in my heart an awareness started to slowly come into focus……

  • Lindsey as a baby

“Sweetheart,” I called to my husband, “just look at her! Is it just me, or is she the most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen?!”  My husband was use to this conversation and accommodated me by joining me staring at our 3 week old baby girl.  

“Oh! Did I tell you that total strangers were talking about the baby with all the beautiful blond hair when I went to get her from the nursery?”

“Yeah, you told me.” Larry replied with a smile, a twinkle in his eye, and pride.  

Looking back, I remember being in awe my daughter.  A daily living miracle.  I always considered giving birth to my two children the greatest contribution I would ever make in the world. The result being far greater than the sum of the parts.

  • Lindsey at 10

“Lindsey, I brought this book home from school today.  Some of my students recommended it and I thought you might like it.” I tried to sound casual, no pressure.

“No.” Accompanied by the familiar 10 year old’s groan and eye-roll. “I don’t think I’d like it.”

My 36 year old self sighed, probably rolled my eyes and said, “Fine. Never mind. Just thought I’d ask.”  And I retreated to my desk to do some work.

Moments later my daughter came to stand near me. “Mom, if you want some space that’s okay.  I just hate it when something comes between us.”  Words that I had said many times to her, now coming back to console me.  My eyes filled and I kissed her.

  • Lindsey at 17

We were headed to Maine for a funeral on my husband’s side of the family. Lindsey and I had 6 hours together to enjoy the peak foliage across New England.  Certainly there was laughter… and whatever else that is that mothers and daughters share in measured syllables and unspoken judgments.

“I don’t know, Mom….  Everything you say just bugs me!”

I laughed.  This wasn’t news to me.

“Linds, you are going away to college next year.  It is appropriate that I should bug you… We’ve been close and now you are going to be on your own. I think it is a way to prepare yourself.”  I don’t know if I said that for her sake or mine, or if I truly believed it.  But, maybe it was true.

  • Lindsey at 26, the age I was when I had her.

“Mom, I really appreciate you coming out to Chula Vista and the time you spent taking care of Kylie the summer I had Avalon.  That was really helpful.”  She meant it, and I could feel her looking for common ground.  Common ground seemed harder and harder to find.

“It was my pleasure, Linds.”

Being in my daughter’s home, especially without my husband, had a tiny edge of awkwardness.  A woman in another woman’s home… you don’t know where things belong, or what spices they use when they cook, or how they like the laundry done.  I recognized the feeling from when my own mother would visit so many years before, interpreting her actions as some mild judgement of my inadequacy.

We sat in the boat, and time folded in on itself like a dropped ribbon.  I could hardly hear her words, but my daughter was so beautiful I had a hard time not to stare.   The once sturdy cord that had bound us together since before her birth and gave her something to chafe against as a teen, was now stretched to a fine gossamer thread. I happened to catch the very moment it let go and the tendril was lifted in the breeze and flung out over the surface of the water.  

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2 thoughts on “Personal Narrative, by Loretta Grant

  1. Loretta, I felt like I was on the boat with you. I could personally connect with your story because of how well you articulated the relationship between a mother and daughter. I wonder if my mom ever feels/felt the same way you do/did.

    • Meg, I appreciate your comment both as a writer and a mother. Striving to write clearly, for me, helps to clarify the moment and to understand what my heart feels but can not articulate. The mother and daughter relationship is powerful and convoluted. If I can be so bold….. just tell your mother you love her. It is the one instance of the impossibility of too much of a good thing. ❤

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