I often looked at Norman Rockwell paintings and felt a twinge of jealousy -- wishing that those perfect scenes had been a part of my life story. Then I found out that even Norman Rockwell wished that the scenes he painted had been a part of his real life.
In truth, Rockwell was born in New York City in 1894 and lived a hard-scrabble childhood on the wrong side of the tracks. So his paintings of scrubbed up Americana are really just his own yearnings for a life he never had. The life he did have was exciting and full of creativity and he left a lasting artistic legacy in the hundreds of paintings he did for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, Life and other magazines.
I, too, have longed for a different or better life. But the life I've had has been full of adventures, and good people, and a loving family. I've fought with family and I've made up with my family -- and we've persevered -- as many of you have done. And we all have a story to tell. I've put some of mine down on paper, and some of it winds up posted as mini chapters on Facebook. But it would give me a real sense of satisfaction to get it all written down as a narrative: My Family and Other Natural Disasters -- or something like that. Plus, it would be fun to interview my siblings to get their side of the story -- even if I wouldn't always feel compelled to use the truthiest version of an event. I've been told by my sister many times, while telling a story, that I'm "not telling it right," to which I always respond, "I know....it's funnier this way." I'll always err on the side of a good laugh.
This Tuesday, May 22, we'll all get a chance to tell our truth; author and writing teacher Linda Weaver Clarke hosts our Family Legacy workshop focused on autobiographical writing and family histories. Workshop begins at 5:30 p.m. Info and registration here.