Several of us attended Listen to Your Mother
, a live readings event held at the Walton Arts Center
in Fayetteville last Sunday. People who had attended this program in the past promised stories of love, laughter and loss, and a poignant display of writerly skills. The event really delivered. As I sat with Courtney Velasquez, our Community Director, we were both filled with pride about our sponsorship of this event and impressed by the line-up of talented women speakers, many of whom are members of our community and well known in the area.
We got there just ten seconds before the lights went down and thus our crew of four were in the back row. These stories were intensely personal; written with an outstanding sense of honesty, humor and self-knowledge. And as mentioned, we were told these stories were going to yank on our heart strings. And so they did.
It turns out we’re a bunch of criers.We held our own pretty well until one brilliant and funny woman told her story about how she was adopted as a two year old by a wonderful family –and grew up living a normal and good life, and then received a “friend” invitation on Facebook out of the blue a year ago by her birth mother whom she had never met. More there but too much for this post….suffice to say that the request was not granted but a hand extended in any case. Story two, that kept the water works going, was about a woman who had lost her mother when she was 19 and had to bury her according to specific instructions by her dearly beloved: in a red dress, panties and shoes to match. And the awkward scene at the funeral home that ensued. OK, to be fair, that story made us all laugh more than cry. But cry we did.
Then we heard from a warm and intelligent writer who described her 5-year-old daughter’s disappearance on a wooded hike in Fayetteville a few years back. The mother confessed that, at 3am on day two of the search, she fell into a place of understandable pessimism (how cold would she be right now in the woods? she cannot still be alive…) Heart pound. Palm sweat…tears flowing full strength. Our entire row of four women was in a simultaneous heave of empathic anguish. The fact that this story ends with the little girl being found by two wonderful men in the search party and brought back to her parents intact made the telling an act of cathartic joy- rather than some ghoulish trash TV spectacle. We walked out of this event wiping our eyes and I know the women with me had a lighter heart and a more appreciative step in that afternoon sun –just like I did.
Not bad for a an hour or two on a lovely Arkansas Sunday.
VN:F [1.9.20_1166]Listen To Your Mother,