Monday, March 23, 2015

Found Treasure


I read an article in a writing magazine a while back about a writer’s mother who was moving from a large house to a much smaller condo. As they kept  finding stuff, the mother would ask her daughter if she wanted it. Some of these 'treasures' were papers from the daughters school years, stories she wrote as a teen, and so on.

After going through some of it, she wrote “there is some good fodder there for future writing, fleshing out and improving on those early writing attempts.”

This got me to thinking and I realized I, too have some rich material from which to draw new articles and stories.

When our mother passed away in January, 2003,  my sister sent me some things she knew I would want: music, song books, and other books Mom had, and a large packet of loose, old black & white photographs, many which appeared to have been torn from long-gone photo albums. When the box arrived and as I was going through those wonderful things, bittersweet memories washed over me. Mom and I had often sung together in church and local revival meetings, and there were marks in the books where we each had made notes as to who sang which part. What wonderful times we had.

When I got to the bottom of the box I found several pieces of paper folded in thirds, yellowed but not brittle, in my mother’s beautiful handwriting. I carefully opened the sheets and found that Mom had written about 2-1/2 notebok pages on the song-writer P.P. Bliss, who was also a close friend and companion to Dwight L. Moody. Bliss and his wife died in a tragic train wreck in December, 1899. Some of his hymns are: Almost Persuaded; Wonderful Words of Life; Hallelujah, What a Savior; Let the Lower Lights Be Burning, and the tune for Horatio Spafford's It Is Well with My Soul.

Anyway, I don't know the purpose of what Mom wrote. I’d never seen it before. It may have been for a Sunday School class (she taught the teenagers) or a Young People's meeting. It wasn't quite old enough to have been written when she was in school (She died at 89.)  I’m guessing it was written sometime in the 1950’s. But she obviously put a great deal of time and effort into what she wrote. "I should do something with this," I thought.

Along with the papers with Mom’s writing, my sister included a letter she’d found addressed to Mom. It was from her soldier brother during WWII, dated August 20, 1945, from an unspecified location somewhere in the Philippines. The letter, 10 hand-written pages, was still folded and in the original envelope. The postmark date was probably a mere few days before he disappeared and was reported Missing in Action. He never returned home. Story material? You bet.

My dad, for the last seven years of his life, (he passed away in April, 2002) was my 'online computer companion' – he living in Florida and me in Nevada. He wanted to put up his own website and do some Bible studies about the Book of Daniel online and I helped him make the beginning effort. It never came about except for a single page on my own website we finally managed to create. . . now lost somewhere in cyberspace. He wrote many notes that we exchanged in email, which, sadly, disappeared along with the webpage. But Mom gave me his Bible before she passed, with highlights and notes throughout. I'm sure there are things in his many writings I could use for some purpose, sometime, if I can decipher his scribbles. He always started out with a legible few sentences, but as he continued writing, it deteriorated into a hasty scrawl.

So, my message to you today is this: DON’T OVERLOOK treasures like this from your own life. What about that stack of papers in your bottom drawer? Get up into Grandma's attic; rummage through old family picture albums; or go through some of your old papers from your school years. Ask the family for memories of years gone by.

No, you don't have to write about what you find if you don't want to. But if you need some inspiration, this kind of 'stuff' is a real treasure trove. You may even find something you can use in something you are working on right now. I'm not sure I can use either of my parent’s writings in any of my current projects, but I’ll find a way to use them, if God wills.

SO, GET BUSY! Who knows what gold you'll find buried under those layers of dust.



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