|High School Yearbook Staff|
(that's me, seated, second from right - Linda is the dark-haired beauty directly across from me)
I'm sure I drove Linda crazy with my incessant questions. Eventually, I must have worn her down, for she began to open up, bit by bit. Finally I got to hear about her intrepid grandfather, the first to come here. Unfortunately, his wife refused to accompany him, so he got himself an American wife. (Did he ever divorce the first one? Who knows?) Later I heard about her parents who, if I remember correctly, didn't even meet until just before their wedding, and who left for America shortly thereafter. Then there was Linda's older brother who, when fresh out of high school, was sent to Hong Kong to meet the relatives, and, courtesy of Grandma, came back with a wife of his own! I saw firsthand Linda's long struggle to be allowed to marry her beloved George, a perfectly nice young Chinese man from Hong Kong, but whom her parents resisted because "her family didn't know his family." Nothing topped the shock of Linda's audacious younger sister falling in love with an anglo, and insisting on marrying him regardless of how her parents felt about it. It was kind of like seeing Fiddler on the Roof come to life, where each successive child grew further and further away from "tradition." There was tragedy -- a horrible accident involving Linda's father and a wicked piece of machinery -- as well as triumph, when he finally overcame his debilitating injuries and was able to return to work.
Yep, if anyone has a doozy of a story to tell, it would be my friend Linda. So imagine my glee when, at the age of 58, she finally started talking about getting some of this stuff down on paper! If only she knew where to start? Upon hearing that, I flashed back to my own self, sitting at the computer in our Houston townhouse, about four years ago. I had just stumbled across the blog of one of my favorite writers, Susan Wittig Albert, author of the China Bayles mystery series that is set here in the Texas Hill Country. I discovered that she had once taught English at nearby Texas State University, and left a comment on her blog, asking if she could recommend any good writing classes for someone interested in getting her personal stories down on paper. Within minutes she replied, "I'll do even better. I'll tell you about an organization I started, Story Circle Network, for women just like you, and invite you to attend our bi-annual conference with workshops, to be held in Austin in just a few months."
I decided to "pay it forward", and shared that same information with my friend Linda. So, guess who's going to be my roomie for three, fun-filled days at the SCN conference this April? Woohoo! How fun is that? Maybe, at long last, I will finally get an answer to the one question that I never got a satisfactory reply to: How do two parents manage to work fulltime running their own business, take care of elderly relatives, and raise three kids who, without their ever raising their voices at them, grounding them, or punishing them in any manner whatsoever, as far as I ever saw, all ended up being extremely polite, well-behaved, brilliant students, and who always seemed perfectly happy to spend all their free time working in the family business? Go figure!