Dani Shapiro had been questioned her whole life about her ethnicity. With blond hair and blue eyes, even though her parents were Orthodox Jews, people had told her from the time she was a baby that she couldn’t be Jewish. And then in her mid-50s she received the shock of her life after taking a DNA test. This is the story told in her memoir Inheritance.
Shapiro took the over-the-counter DNA test on a whim at the request of her husband. When the tests come back, she compares it with a test her half-sister and discovers that her father is not her biological father. Shapiro is quickly able to figure out who her biological father is through the test results, the Internet, and some help from an acquaintance who is active in genealogy.
As she looked out the window she wondered when we would stop. At least that’s what I imagine my mom was thinking as I look back to that desert car trip.
“That’s a nice yucca plant.”
She had said it so many times that day, now years later, we still remember it. My older sister and I use it as an easy joke when we are in the car together when one of us wants to stop, but the driver keeps pressing on.
Today I’m participating in We Are the World Blogfest. More about that at the end, but basically, it’s a chance to share positive news. This month I wanted to talk about the Friendship Bench – Zimbabwe project.
The Friendship Bench – Zimbabwe project is a project started in Zimbabwe to help people dealing with depression and anxiety. There is a treatment gap in Zimbabwe where there is one psychiatrist per 1 million people.
I was traveling this week for work so instead of writing something new, I went back into my archive of writing and found something I wrote a number of years ago. It is based on a prompt from the book Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg.
This book provides prompts to help you start writing. The focus is on memoir so the prompts tend to be around items that will jog your memory and help you dig into your past. Some of the prompts are long and open-ended, but others are more specific and fun like the one I’ve included below.
Kristen Radtke’s graphic memoir Imagine Wanting only this raises many questions and has many themes, but the book doesn’t necessarily answer them. We follow Radtke as she deals with the death of a favorite uncle, becomes engaged to a man we know she is not suited for, goes to grad school, and travels the globe extensively often visiting ruins and other abandoned buildings.
If you were to think about your life, what period would you remember best? If you said your teens and 20s, you’re not alone. There’s even a name for the phenomenon. It’s called the reminiscence bump and researchers have been studying why our adolescence and young adulthood is so memorable for more than 30 years.
The basic idea of the reminiscence bump is that people over the age of 40 remember more memories from the age of between 10 or 15 to 30 than any other time in their life. Studies have been replicated across cultures using different types of cues, recalling vivid, the most important, autobiographical, and stories they would put in a book about their life.
I have a lot of positive aging role models. My mom is 85 and until recently seemed unstoppable. A few weeks ago she fell and broke her femur. It has slowed her down a bit, but just for a while. After a short period of recuperation, she has every intention of getting back to her life which includes living independently in our childhood home, volunteering, traveling and senior Zumba.
I spent the past weekend with her, with the intention of helping her, but she didn’t really need much assistance. While I was there, she had visits from a few more of my positive role models. Her sister, who is 84, visited one evening. And her brother, 83, and his wife visited the next.
As I rounded the corner of my parent’s house, I nearly ran into my neighbor, who also happened to be my godfather. He was walking on the cement sidewalk that ran along our house and next to the short fence surrounding their patio.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hi, Bill,” I said.
There wasn’t much more to say so we continued on our way. Nothing too remarkable in the day of a child.
Except later, my dad stopped me, “Did you see Dr. C before?”
“Did you call him Bill?”
“Don’t do that. You call him Dr. C.”
This is my second post in honor of national Migraine and Headache awareness month. You can read the first here about finding relief from migraine here.
I have had migraines and headaches for more than 30 years, since I was about 14. It would seem after three decades of headaches and their wicked stepsister, the migraine, that I would know everything there is to know about them. But the truth is, I don’t. And judging from my fellow sufferers, I am not alone.
June is National Migraine Awareness month. Here is a story about releasing some of the pain from migraine and how I keep learning more about my own migraines, no matter how long I have them.
I never realized how funny it sounded until someone else said it, “So you have pain in your head and your feet?”
I laughed. And since I did, she did too. She was only a student at the massage clinic, but was taking this intake process more seriously than most doctors took medical exams these days. I had come to the clinic for a cheap $30 massage, only fifty cents a minute, not a complete medical exam.