As a writer making a “third-chapter” public debut, I say they do.
But as the daughter of writers, I can attest to the fact that there is no final word.
After a lifetime of focusing on other things, I am now looking to the public presentation of my craft. Though composing since preschool, putting it out there—publishing it, doing the work of writing—is a new beginning for me.
The clack of the old Corona typewriter, the whirr and bell of the return carriage was background noise to my childhood. My father, a newspaperman, rode around in the back of cop cars at night for a story. My mother was forever in her pajamas back in the bedroom typing up her tales. It was something we did. We wrote. Words counted. Stringing letters into sentences counted more. Revealing the way you saw life had value. My parents’ models and my mother’s encouragement cheered me on. “Go write about it, Marion!” she would say again and again.
I accumulated boxes full of notebooks and napkins and scraps of paper with dashed-off tidbits about whatever was going on during every phase of my life, plus short stories and novellas.
“There’s gold in those boxes, Marion. Wait five or ten years. Get a little distance from it. Then pull it out. Pure gold.” Her prospector eyes gleamed.
It’s true. I have a new book: A memoir of the last decade of my mother’s life and our relationship, both as a fractious mother/daughter duo and as writers together. It’s called: Shopping with Mama: Write ’til the End, and it will be out in Fall, 2018. I hope you will want to read it. (Here, hyperlink the words Read it and go to the contact page.)
Our lifelong arguments were often about duty versus enjoyment: which should prevail? A placard on the wall of my house reads, ‘Be happy. Happiness is a form of wisdom.’ It’s certainly my inclination, a product of the ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ generation, to choose happiness as often as I can.
But I didn’t escape the grasp of duty either. I wanted to be the best daughter I could be for my mother on her way out, even after decades of disagreements and wildly disparate world views.
What I say is if you’re fortunate enough to have a parent live long enough, and cogently, as I did, so that you can help them into the next experience, last chances count. At least for you. You can go home again. You can rethink the whole experience, help another person, and come home to write about it
What are beginnings and endings anyway? Aren’t they happening every second of every minute on the subatomic level deep within us? We have unlimited chances. Every exit line is also an entry to something else.
Whatever the goal, whatever the time, last chances count, though, truthfully, they are never really final. I still have conversations with my now dead parents and learn something new in the exchange, settle an old hurt, finally understand. Some things are never-ending.
But don’t wait. Do it! Whatever it is you think may be beyond you, or out of reach, or not really gonna’ happen for you in your lifetime.
Don’t die wondering. What if things go right?
Take the leap!
This is mine as I reach for the next trapeze.