Thursday, February 3, 2011

Life Stories Class for Seniors in Matthews

My 'Life Stories' class started and my oh my what an amazing group of people!  We laughed, we shared stories, we felt deep emotions for one another...Truly truly an exciting first day.  One of my students plans to keep a journal of the class and has permitted me to include it here....So many stories to tell from my sixteen amazing students....Can't wait for the next class where everyone is to write a half page childhood memory (one minute)... The following was written by Elizabeth Towles (Willie)

The Memory Chair

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

There are sixteen of us and we are here at the Matthews Playhouse for a class listed as: Life Stories.

The chairs form a large circle inside the ample corner room. We are a diverse group, women as well as men, and all with one connecting thread…we are labeled Seniors, as in the time of our life’s number game. In charge is a young woman, Wrenn, who evidently has great courage; she had been the leader of children’s group, and others, and now…our group, carrying a plethora of personalities, experiences, and problems that grew us and shaped our present personas.

We will meet one day a week, for a time of 1 &1/2 hrs, for the next twelve weeks, learning life stories from each other, and eventually drafting a play from one of the stories. Along the way, we’ll have a lot of laughs, oh and ah at surprises, and give hugs when touching becomes a need.

Today, we wore name tags and were paired with another classmate. In turn, we asked each other questions and answered them out loud. Questions like: Your name? Do you have a nickname? What is your favorite color…and why? Why did you join this class? And do you have anything you’d like to share with the group? Needless to say, it was the last question that opened the flood gates of remembrance…only eight people got to participate. It seems when given a chance to have our say…we seniors really have our say. Next week the remaining eight will have their turn.

I was paired with Terry, who I soon learned had asked to partner with me, I agreed, not knowing there was more behind the asking. We exchanged names and small talk before being center stage for our questioning period. When I asked about nicknames, she said she had been called Willie, which is part of my name, and also that she was a writer. As she talked, I found many commons that we shared. Strangers upon meeting, but within a matter of quick minutes, we felt kinship by our past. After dealing with debilitating health problems for the last 10 months, this was my first attempt at stepping back into my life; and Terry seemed put in place by knowing Hands.

The class went by so quickly that I remember only a handful of names from today’s gathering: Ted, who wrote under his name tag, Donald Duck; he gave us a Quack, Quack to validate his note, Barbara, who said her stories would be coming next week, Julia, whose ready smile lit up her face; and Sandy who said she had been wanting to do something for a long time, and with a mischievous look in her eyes, she pulled up a sleeve and on the soft underside of her left arm a message read: Have Faith and Breathe…. Elizabeth

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