After all this time, old family traditions haven’t been forgotten. I haven’t been back to Gage Oklahoma in many years; still I can recall the main streets and the Ford farm. Very different from where I lived. I lived in Irving Texas, grew up there, grew up with the town. And then these places were no longer part of my life, and I’ve moved on. Or have I?
From a distance, I’ve revisited various times in my life. My perspective has changed; in my mind the characters and places haven’t. Perhaps there is a reason I haven’t let go of most of that. There are stories there. (See my short story GANDPA’S WAGER.) Demons! Life as a soap opera. AS THE WORLD TURNS; no, I’ve tried to move away from the hours I spent in front of a television set mesmerized by the twists and turns of high-pitched drama.
I have moved far away from all of that, but I’ve found it very hard to escape where I started. But though most of all of those people are dead now, three generations that I can count…my family, direct descendents and in-laws…they’re there for me to use. My cousins, still scattered from northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas to San Antonio and the hill country, share my memories; some may want to write about them, but I doubt that they will because none of them are writers. That brings up the questions: do you have to be a writer to write about something? And what is a definition of a writer?
In spite of our ability today to get around, to easily travel from place to place, we don’t have family reunions anymore. We don’t get together for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Or maybe we do; only the cast of characters has changed, as the makeup of our families changed. It’s my turn to be grandpa, imagine that. And my grandchildren are too young to have children. We now have a different story line, as different as today is to yesterday. I should wait and not dismiss the past or the present; still struggling, I shouldn’t be dissatisfied with what I have been given, the memories, the legacy, the good and the bad. To everyone there is this gift. The family I knew in Gage Oklahoma (my dad’s side with memories of Christmas) and Fruitvale Texas (my mother’s side with memories of Thanksgiving) have passed on or have scattered. All of us wanted to be on our own.
Now, trying to move forward with my writing, I am looking for things that are truly my own. I have my memories. I know that’s a good place to start. However I write fiction, never could stick to the truth. I’m thankful my memories are there. So I can fall back on them. It makes finding something to write about less desperate, less nebulous, and more concrete, that is when I can actually see my grandfather’s farm and still slip and slide across his frozen crick.
Good afternoon, Randy Ford