Telling our stories
On Monday we waved goodbye for another year to old friends from Virginia. Tinka and I worked together at a resort at Chaffey's Lock on the Rideau Lakes when we were sixteen. After that, although we went to different high schools in Toronto we managed to get together often and we even saw one another fairly frequently during university days although she went to school in the states and I was at Queen's. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding.
We lost touch for a while in the sixties. Our paths were too divergent. I was having babies and she was having a career in publishing, first in Toronto and then in New York. We found our way back together when she married and moved to a charming old farmhouse in upstate New York.
Now we try to get together at least once a year for a week or so at our cottage, which is just across the lake from where we first met and worked. We talk. Our husbands do helpful things while we talk. They hammer nails into boards and walk our various dogs. They open the wine and roast things on the barbecue while we talk.
We talk about writing. Tinka has a story in the Ladies' Killing Circle's Bone Dance and another one in Locked Up (under her pen name of Kathryn Finn) and she's about to publish her first historical novel, The Juliana Chronicles, about Juliana Berner, who lived in the fourteenth century and is thought to be the first woman ever published.
Lately however, our talk has often been about aging, and our memories. When you're in your seventies you have a lot of memories stored away and it's good to bring them out and give them a little air every once in a while. We don't always remember events that happened fifty years ago in the same way. I have a clear recollection of something that occurred while we were swimming at Chaffey's Lock but she assures me it never happened. She remembers something that happened to me that I'm pretty sure is a figment of her imagination.
This year Tinka brought me a book called THIS is Getting Old, by Susan Moon.There are a number of things about this book that resonate with me but one notion in particular jumped off the page – that we have a responsibility to remember our pasts and to hand them on. This might be in the form of memoirs or stories or simply orally, but we have a duty to tell our stories. If we don't, they will be lost and that would be a loss for humanity. And if we don't tell them, who will?
Sue Pike has published a couple of dozen stories and won several awards including an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Crime Story. Her latest, Where the Snow Lay Dinted appeared in the January issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.
Sue and her husband and an opinionated Australian Shepherd named Cooper spend the winter months in Ottawa and the rest of the time at a mysterious cottage on the Rideau Lakes.