Creative Non-Fiction Ethics

Illustration depicting cutout printed letters arranged to form the words fact not fiction.
Illustration depicting cutout printed letters arranged to form the words fact not fiction.

I am currently putting together the pieces to a memoir of my family. My mom was an avid ancestry.com user. When she passed away last year, I inherited all of the information she printed out. I have binders and binders of information from relatives from centuries ago. As exciting as all of this is, it comes with a few if not an insurmountable bevvie of issues and stressors. I have a hard enough time recounting what I did yesterday, so to work on a history of folks that I did not even know from the year 1792 will require a massive amount of fact checking and creativity.

I have had to create my own set of ground rules in writing creative non-fiction with this particular project. I need to remain open and honest with my audience in the fact that I am basing my memoir/biography on historical facts and the word of others, plain and simple. I am also going to be taking a long and hard look at the resources available to me to determine whether it is in fact legitimate. This will involve fact checking, travel, time, etc. In other words I want to be as accurate as possible. And finally, I need to be patient in understanding that I am only one person trying to put together something mammoth. I like to make lists and check items off quickly and this task at hand is definately not going to be easy or quick.

I am honestly EXTREMELY excited about this project, but am also stressed out as well. It is going to be a long process, but one that I am taking up with great abandon!

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Creative Non-Fiction Ethics

An Ode To Mom

ODE TO MOM

 

French writer Marguerite Duras once wrote, “Our mother’s remain the strangest, craziest people we’ve ever met.”

Author Maya Angelou wrote, “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colours of the rainbow.”

And finally, actress and writer Tina Fey says, “Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.”

I am sure that all you have felt all of these ways about yourself or your own mother’s at some point. The truth of the matter is as mother’s you are all extraordinary humans. You have taken on the weight of the world and have been entrusted to mould the future generation into upstanding individuals that are ready and able to take over and thrive in the remnants of our worldly mistakes.

You have sacrificed ever single ounce of solitude and complete independence to make sure that your children are never without.

Let’s face it, motherhood is not easy. There are barriers at every corner that you must tear down in order for your children to soldier on. The battle is endless, and as mothers you often lose your own hopes, dreams, and desires in the process.

For these sacrifices us children – your children – thank you with everything we have. For this Mother’s Day I invite you to remember who you are, not just as a mother, but everything else that makes up your wonderful self.

Mother’s Day hasn’t always been around. The appreciation for Mother’s was never celebrated until 1908 when Anna Jarvis, of West Virginia decided to honour her mother’s life as well as continue the peace activism her mother did during the Civil War. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day as the second Sunday in May. Mother’s Day is now globally recognized and celebrated on assorted dates throughout the year.

My own mom’s first Mother’s Day was celebrated in 1974. I was about 8 months old and I am sure it was a great day as most first Mother’s Day are. My mom was barely an adult herself, as she was only 23 years old. My parents were highschool sweethearts that decided to marry as soon as they graduated. With that came the expectation of children and I arrived, 2 weeks late to 22 year old parents.

My mom dreamed of being a costume designer. Her talent was outstanding even as a child, but her mother, my Granny, a first time mother at the age of 16, would not allow Jacki, my mom to pursue those dreams because there was no future in that. Jacki chose career training in administration instead. Neither of those careers came to fruition, however, as Jacki became a full time mother to both myself and my brother who was born two and a half years later, three months premature, and a full time annoyance to my formerly ‘only child’ life.

My mom’s talent was not lost regardless of the fact that her career dreams were altered. I was the kid with the knitted sweaters on the first day of school. I was the kid with the handmade prom dress. I was the kid who had the mom that made all of the costumes for our school play. I was a lucky kid.

When my brother and I had grown up and moved out of the house, and at the young age of 50, my mom, in a nod to her favorite movie “Shirley Valentine”, split from my Dad, died her hair blonde, got a face lift, and went back to school. She finally got to realize her dream and finished a degree in Textile Arts and Art History.

Regardless of her new found independence, my mom always included us in her aspirations. When her mom passed away, my mom came into an inheritance. She was able to buy things she had never been able to before. She got to fulfill her lifelong dream of travelling. She furnished my brother and sister-in-laws new apartment, and paid for me to accompany her on a month long trip to Europe to see all of the famous paintings she discovered while getting her art history degree.

Mothers are the most important people in the world. Cheryl Strayed, author of best-selling novel Wild, may have said it best when she said about her mother, “she is the most essential person in my life.” When I was a child, all things lead to my mom. She was the one I woke up to, came home to, cried to, and screamed at. She was Brown Owl in my Brownie Troupe, my taxi, my enforcer, my biggest champion.

A few months back I was approached by a young girl, around the age of 10, asking me to help her find a book. The book was a bit advanced for her age, but we found it nonetheless. I watched her take it to her mom, and her mom than came up to me. She asked me my honest opinion on the maturity of the book and weather or not it was alright for her daughter to read. I was honest about the content, but was even more honest to point out that most ages were reading it regardless. As I was saying all of this the 10 year old was motioning me to say that it was ok to her mom. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take that upper hand. Her mom said no to the book. The girl was completely shattered and looked at me as if I was the most heinous person in the world. I felt like I was the most heinous person in the world because I had sold that book to younger girls than her. Out of nowhere, I heard myself say to the girl, “You’re mom knows what is best for you. You may not believe me now, but in time you will.”

For some reason that exchange has stuck with me, and I have finally figured out why. I am who I am today because of my mom. Every word I write, every sentence I speak, every moment of silence I give is because of my mom.

I currently write a feminist blog for an online publication. I majored in Women Studies in University, and I am an outspoken women’s activist. My mother had often differed with me on my political stances. Regardless of the differences, she never told me to stop. She was very proud to stand next to me during Pride Parades, Human Rights Conferences, and would clip out every newspaper article I was in.

I am very strong in my opinions and I actively seek out justice for those that do not receive it. The only reason that I am able to fight is because my mother, Jacki, gave me the tools to do so. My mother taught me to be humble, and powerful. She taught me to be loving and effective in my convictions. She taught me that money didn’t grow on trees, but I had way more than most people in this world. To me, whether you want the label or not, mother’s are the finest feminists in the world. My mother made me all of those things and I am forever grateful.

Mother’s Day 2014 was the last Mother’s Day I will be able to celebrate. Jacki took her last breath 9 days later resulting from a cruel disease that took her away far too young. It is awkward when you are faced with the impending death of a mother. You watch as the woman that pounded the pavement for you to follow triumphantly slowly fade away. You hold her hand and tell her that everything is going to be ok. Myself and my brother are going to be ok, so are your two grandkids.

Those were the most tragic days of my life, and my greatest heartbreak. But, I would never think of being anywhere else. My mother sacrificied and gave everything she had to me. She held my hand while I crossed the street. It was time for me to hold hers.

One year later and I miss my mom more than anything in the world. What I wouldn’t give to talk to her about the return of the X Files, or the impending birth of the newest Royal, two of her most favorite things. What I can tell you though is that I feel her presence everywhere I go. She is in my dreams almost every night. I talk to her like she is right next to me. Sometimes I could swear that she is.

Like a mother, she is with me all of the time. She dedicated her life to me and even after she had gone, her voice still guides me every single day.

My wish for all of you this Mother’s Day is to celebrate yourselves for the true individuals that you are. Understand that you are the single most important people in the world. Your words, your guidance, and your love are all that are needed to shape the next generation. You, as mother’s are who will change the world for the better. My mother made me who I am today, and for that, the world will become a little more beautiful.

 

Thank you Mom’s for being you.

An Ode To Mom