Sunday, January 26, 2020
Judy being interviewed by Virginia Hudson
Talking to Myself Six January 26, 2020
As the years roll on, I think more
about when I won’t be here.
I’ll be leaving behind many words.
Will they resound? Echo? Murmur?
Sing? Will people love them? Repeat
them? Memorize them? Sleep with
them under their pillow? Will my
words keep them awake because
someone’s suffering is being transmitted?
Even after I’m gone? Part of me won’t
ever be lost though I, too, will die.
Meantime I’ll take good care of my
life and my words and write down
what I hear in my heart. I fell and then,
slowly, I healed. Now I walk better.
Some aches, but I’m stronger. My
legs and arms are more reliable.
My brain is changing so I won’t
fall down so easily. My feet plant
themselves more convincingly. If
I start to fall, I catch myself. I
practice, I argue, I adapt. For now
I’m alive. For now I’m ready for
the new. If I lose sleep, I’ll catch
up later. I still have all the
resources of the living.
Sunday, January 19, 2020
Judy, photo by Emma Tobin
Talking to Myself Five January 19, 2020
I’ve had very few successes in
my book publishing life. So far,
twenty-four books, twelve mysteries,
seven of poetry, four non-fiction,
and one, my grandmother’s diary,
which I annotated. I wanted to
understand her better. She was
bi-polar and spent too much time
in mental hospitals. I used to say,
“If I didn’t write, I’d go crazy.”
Lately I’ve begun writing more
and more often, and I’m publishing
two or three books a year. But one,
the eleventh, won me praise I had
come not to expect. My writing
skill is called deft; with more plot
twists and turns than a bakery
box of pretzels. I’ve never seen
such pretzels, but they must be
impressive. I was stunned by the
praise of the Midwest Book Review.
It lifted me up out of my quiet
life, reading, writing, cooking,
learning how to strengthen my legs
and body core. Then, in the same
day, Friday, January 17th, a newspaper
friend came to interview me. His
questions set off the story of my life.
I am as amazed as he is. By all
the things I’ve done. I worked behind
the scenes most of the time. At that
women’s gathering which we called
“Tell Me a Story That’s True,” I stood
before six hundred women and said,
“Your stories are important. Women
need to write down the stories they’ve
told no one.” I took my own advice
and I’ve been doing it, too. After
my friend left, I felt the familiar urge
to write. I’ve written so many books,
so many poems, so many pages in my
diaries. My words are there and will
be kept in a major women’s collection
at a major university, and I’m still
writing, still putting on paper
the truth I experience: my very own
truth. In one day I learned that
my life mattered. I crossed some
boundary, and my story began to be
known by s world of new people,
strangers, those unknown to me,
who will laugh and cry with
my words ringing in their ears.
Sunday, January 12, 2020
My garden peas in early spring, a few years ago.
Talking to Myself Four January 12, 2020
It’s not easy to let go all those things
I used to do without debating. When
the hens found their way into the
garden, I didn’t mend the fences.
Next thing I knew, they were living
in the backyard. When I took out
the morning feed, they came on
the back porch and followed me,
sometimes coming in with me,
sometimes staying out. I always
had a garden. This year I haven’t
ordered seeds. I practice walking
with a cane and not shuffling–
a way to prevent my body from
running. My new shoes are a
little too long, but with thick
socks I manage quite well. My
glasses got bent when I fell, but
I’ve postponed getting them fixed.
Am I lazy now or simply being
wise? With my son for backup,
I walked again at the dam. It
went well, and now I practice
my cane walk in the front yard.
It doesn’t take long, and it goes
more easily. I’ll see my doctor
in two weeks. She always cheers
me and makes me laugh. I got
through that time of healing,
which went so slowly. What
is it I need to say to myself?
Do all you can do. Rest when
you’re tired. Don’t give up yet.
You have years to go,
one day at a time.
Sunday, January 5, 2020
Zinnias on my kitchen table
Talking to Myself Three January 5, 2020
When did it begin? I was thirteen.
I loved that teacher. I saw the
beautiful flowers our neighbor
had in her yard. I wanted to take
my teacher flowers like those–
zinnias they were. In our backyard
we had a big oak tree. I planted
zinnia seeds. I watered them
and waited. Nothing came up.
Someone explained: for zinnias
the soil has to be just right; then
plenty of sun. I still plant zinnias,
and now their brilliant colors
rise up, and if the wind knocks
them over, I know they’ll turn
their stems and go up again.
I take them to our postmaster,
and all the workers and customers
like them. The word spread about
my zinnias. I got a call: could
her friend come and pick some
for a wedding? I said yes and
watched them pick “as many
as you like.” There were many,
and they took a generous number.
With zinnias, the more you pick,
the more there are. Give zinnias
away, and more buds appear.
They’re still my favorite flower.
The wedding was beautiful, she said.