A few months ago I asked my grandmother whether or not she would be willing to sit down with me, allowing me to conduct interviews with her about her life. She surprised me by saying she had already written down many of her memories; her son had asked her to do that some time ago. Weeks later, I saw her at a family dinner and she had a yellow Spiral Mead notebook with her. On the cover written in ink was, “1988, The Life of Emma Lee Coward Bomgardner, Bennett – Tuttle, Oklahoma.” She told me she had to look a little while for it, but had found her work.
I took the notebook and let her know I would transcribe what she had written, clean it up a bit, then send it to her for review. The goal was to then send it out to the family.
Last night I began the task of reading her handwritten notes. I was surprised at how much information was there and appreciated that her narrative echoed her true voice. Not many periods, quite a few commas, and no erasing…just, freestyle.
This job is going to take quite a bit of time, but I’ve already decided the rewards will be much greater than the investment. She began writing at age sixty-six. Her first memory penned was how her mother took her and her siblings to visit their grandparent’s home. She said they had to cross a bridge in order to reach their destination and the horse balked at the idea of making the pass. She recalls being terribly frightened as her mother wrestled with managing the horse, eventually coaxing him across the bridge.
I know that adrenaline helps embed memories, and from reading through these pages I can see how and why she might have recalled and written the stories she did. I’m about fifteen percent through the transcription, but today after reading the struggles manifested by the Great Depression…I’m very grateful for what we have.
We are certainly a blessed nation and a blessed family. May God continue to richly bless you and yours.
~Red Dirt Kelly
**1/16/11 Note: “One Voice of the Oklahoma Prairie: My Grandmother’s Memoirs” is now being published. Check THIS LINK to see the posts each week until they’re finished.