The Marks We Leave Behind: A Writing Exercise for Memoirists

After my father died, I found the marks he’d left: the wooden handles of tools, scraped and splintered from the pincers of his prosthetic hands—his hooks as he always called them; the clamped edges of pages in his Bible from where he’d held them. I can still recall him sitting at our dining table, working…

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A Tourist in a Familiar Place: Making Our Settings Distinct

Cathy and I live in a suburban subdivision that was supposed to have Trick or Treat last Thursday, but, because it was cold and rainy, our homeowners’ association took matters into its own hands, and we decided to postpone Trick or Treat until Saturday. So yesterday evening in sunshine and much warmer temperatures we sat…

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The Precise Names of Things

Yesterday evening, Cathy and I drove down to the lake in Fryer Park, which is located off Orders Road about a mile from our home. It was a pleasant evening—humid, but overcast and with enough of a breeze to make things comfortable. We sat awhile on a bench overlooking the lake and then decided to…

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Characterization and Anomalous Details

All day, this Father’s Day, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a particular belt my father wore whenever he wanted to be dressy. It was a black elastic belt that stretched until the buckle  clasped. That buckle was a gold-plated “M,” the initial of our last name, a touch of vanity, I always…

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Daydreaming Your Memoir

I saw a photograph once, but now it only exists in my memory. It was an 8 x 10 glossy of the congregation of the Berryville Church of Christ, the church I attended with my mother when I was a small child on our family farm. The church itself was a one-room affair with a…

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