Grandma’s Impulse to Write
My impulse to make a living as a writer emerged in my early teens. But decades would pass before I figured out how to make it work.
Her Final Words, My Inspiration
My grandmother had no idea that her words would have such a great impact on me. They ultimately propelled me into the action of pursuing my writing goals.
She was unaware of my writing dreams all her life — even after she confessed her own dreams to me. So how, then, would she have been able to encourage me to follow my dreams?
Stillness In Her Final Hours
My grandmother lay silently in the hospice bed. All I could hear was her labored breathing. Rhythmically, air went in through her nose — then silence — and out it came through the same passage. Occasionally she’d gasp with open mouth to take in air.
I’d been sitting at Grandma’s bedside for two hours. Once in a while, she’d stir and mumble something.
I was never quite sure if it was the morphine talking or her memory. Suddenly, the clarity of her words startled me.
Her Dreams Resurrected
In that dimly-lit hospice room, she uttered “I wanted them to publish my poems.”
“What Grandma?” I was alert again. “Who did you want to do that? Where?”
“My high school.” She said, her eyes open wide now, her voice stronger.
I felt at once intrigued and sad. She seemed to be reliving a part of her life that she’d buried deep within her soul. Buried for 69 years. Since her tenth grade. Back in rural Manitoba, Canada where her family had landed when they immigrated from Russia three short years before.
Anne Reimer Lands in Canada
A child of Russian immigrants, my grandma Anne Reimer landed in this country with not one word of English. But she attended the local public school from day one.
Children in those days either sank or swam. Schools didn’t provide ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for immigrant students like they do now. So she was thrown into the deep end of the pool, and learned to swim.
Her Dream Became My Own
The sun sank lower as we talked well into the evening. She told me how she’d written in high school with hopes of seeing her words in print. She worked hard toward that goal of getting published in the school paper.
Sadly, it didn’t happen.
Memories of her mission became my own. I vowed to myself that night before falling asleep. “I will write no matter what,” I vowed in honor of Grandma’s passion, and her desire to see her words in print.
The takeaway from this story? Follow your dreams. Nobody else will do it for you. Life — or rather time — is so elusive that living day to day we don’t realize how time is constantly changing us. We are aging from the day we’re born. Then one day BAM! We’re old. That’s why we’ve got to do what we can to honour our dreams. In other words, ‘live your dreams’.
American author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. said it best.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
That short poignant exchange with Grandma the day she confessed her desire to be a published writer is testament to Brown’s words. If Grandma had heard words of encouragement like these when she was younger I wonder if she would have pursued the writing life. To continue with the sailing analogy, that ship has already sailed.
But I have my grandmother, Anne Enns, to thank for confiding in me in her final hours. Her words have been lanterns illuminating my own path to the writer’s life.
Grandma’s dreams have merged with and driven my own dreams. They have, in fact, transformed into the very writing goals that motivate me to tell you this story.