My Memoirs Class

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When I enrolled in the Norwalk seniors’ memoirs class in September 2015, after retiring from my job of 38 years, I did not know what to expect.

I was seeking to learn, grow, and stay actively engaged with writing. I discovered like minds challenging themselves, stretching for more out of life, and writers putting pen to paper.

Passionately thirsting to fulfill a promise I made to my mother, I landed on solid ground. Little did I know stumbling so many times before with doubt and lack of confidence was preparing me for a smooth landing among such gifted writers.

I have learned so much and gained more confidence. The class took me beyond craft, style, or form. It opened my eyes to other cultures, other worlds.

It is a journey of humans getting to know humans from across tracks, rivers, streams, from farmlands, backwoods, city streets, and foreign countries.

Only the swell in my heart can convey how appreciative I am of discovering this class. People disclosing themselves using a pallet of emotions, with a broad range of interest and diversity, writing amazing stories, and I get first hand at listening is a dream come true.

My Thursday memoirs class at the Norwalk Senior Center is well orchestrated by Bonnie Mansell, our impressive instructor, and so rich with such gifted writers.

Everyone is talented. I feel like I am listening to an orchestra of fine-tuned instruments each telling its own story, engaging all of the senses.

Some are historical, others lyrical, imaginative, poetic, funny, brilliantly crafted, written by seniors who have not retired from living. I’m so lucky to tune up my instrument among them.

I am equally as grateful they appreciate me as much as I appreciate them. I surely hope they know how much.

When a classmate reached out to me trusting that I could assist her, entrusting me with such an honor, I could not refuse.

She presented me with a well-written story and asked me to review it, edit it if necessary. It was for a genius of a student applying to medical school.

I only added a few highlights to a well-painted narrative. It was a confirmation, a reminder of my purpose, a blessing to me that she turned my way.

The universe spoke to me through her, reminding me my gift is to serve others. It is to bear goodwill. She let me know how sincerely my words resonate with her, the spirit in them, the humanity, and the power in them. It was a blessing.

I thanked her for approaching me and asking for my assistance. I only hope it served her well.

Our memoirs class is such a treasure on so many levels. I am committed to writing more. It expresses what Bonnie and her class participants are all about, a journey and not a destination.

It is learning beyond textbooks, beyond dotting i’s and crossing t’s. It is about engaging in dialogue, investing in story, writing with all of the senses, creating real narratives out of the pages of life, preserving legacy, and writing for fun and free.

Many stories capture times forgotten that need to be remembered seasoned with life from first hand experiences, stories that are close up and personal filled with joy and pain, beauty and tragedies.

We laugh, we cry, we value and appreciate. We pat each other on the back and encourage.

Our class is well rounded. It is ageless though we are all seniors. Our talent is a testament to that. It stretches across borders.

Diversity is without question. We take risk, dare to speak our truth, self disclose, and act out our dreams.

We use imagination, bare our souls, and get naked on paper. We stretch across oceans. We are students of life: writers, poets, authors with no time constraints on learning.

We keep reaching for more, sharing, discovering, evolving, creating awed by stories reflecting our circles, the worlds we traveled, and human experiences.

Our class is a microcosm of endless possibilities, a paradigm of a benevolent humanity, a beloved community.

I am living out my dreams. I’ve arrived in a new space, so deeply enriched, so encouraged and rewarded.

I feel like I’ve discovered new wings. I’m soaring. I am taking flight fueled with such compliments I receive from my classmates. I just want to remain humble, inhaling and exhaling, finding my way through blank pages writing my stories.

I am going forward with indelible memories of us etched in my marrow, as I keep rising. Today I pause to write, to give thanks to my classmates for the many gifts they have given me.

What a beautiful bouquet of flowers, what a rainbow in the clouds!

Vickie Williams is a member of the writing class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. It is held off-campus at the Norwalk Senior Center.