Recently, I returned home from visiting my mom, Concepcion Santos or Connie to her family and friends. At age 86, she is fragile yes, and a little forgetful, but still funny and full of memories.
Sitting in her room or taking a drive, we talked about those memories.
She talked about how she and my late father eloped to Raton, New Mexico. They met at a dance, where he played guitar.
About her days as a cook at the Colorado State Hospital. She didn’t drive so we took turns picking her up from work. I remember my father turning off the engine and we’d hear to the screams from the inmates.
She talked about how her grandmother, who had lighter skin, used to powder her up so she would not appear too dark.
When we passed by an old railroad station, she recalled working at a nearby laundry as a young woman during World War II. She and other female workers would run to the station and wave at the soldiers passing on the trains.
My mom, who admits she is very nosy, told the story of hiding behind the hedges in our front yard to check on a wild party going on across the street. The next day a neighbor and she chatted about the party. The neighbor said it was wild because someone was crawling around in our front yard.
She talked a lot about my father and with such joy that I half expected him to walk in the door carrying his big smile and lunchpail.
With pride, she talked about how my grandfather used to write plays, although he had to make his living working in a steel mill.
In stories and books, I have written several memories told to me by my mom and dad. I only wished I could have written more before my dad died. The stories become the makeup of my characters, and give me inspiration for other stories.
As writers, we probably seek writing ideas all around us. But I suggest you also look back home to the people who have lived a full life.
They have beautiful, sad, poignant and joyous stories to tell. We just have to listen.