By A. J. Llewellyn
Words on a page. How much do they mean? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately not just because I’m a writer and reader but because I’ve come to realize they can mean everything and nothing.
Have you ever picked up a grocery cart in the store and found somebody else’s shopping list? It’s happened to me enough times that I find myself wondering about the person behind the whimsical stationery or the spidery handwriting.
On the other end of the spectrum we have the Voyrich Manuscript, or The Book Nobody Can Read. A seemingly unintelligible work written in the 15th century that nobody can decipher.
Recently I had an experience that falls somewhere between these two.
My godmother sent me a card hand-written by mother in 1972.
Big deal, right?
Well, for me it was. I was a year old at the time and she died a few short years later after a horrific battle with colon cancer. My father destroyed all trace of her. So it was an incredible gift when my godmother unearthed an old Christmas card in which my mother describes her joy at getting me to eat (I find it hard to believe that was ever a problem) and her discovery that she was pregnant again.
I’d never seen her handwriting and the card reduced me to tears. She had a lovely penmanship and wrote in smooth strokes. I touch each word, knowing she created it.
What astonished me was how people have reacted when I show them the card. People I feel close to act like it’s odd that I carry it around with me. A few of my elderly friends, and those who have lost their mothers, recognize it for the treasure it is. I have scanned the card and sent it to my brothers who also value it.
Until my dying day it will remain my most treasured possession.
Words on a page.
Or, a card.
This has impacted me in a wonderful way, because the card became the jumping off point for my new story, Wait For Night, for Amber Quill Press. It comes out in April as part of the Crime and Punishment anthology and as I put the finishing touches to the story I am aware that this is probably my most personal story yet.
Without giving too much away, a young man’s assault at the hands of an attacker who is liberated by the Los Angeles court system, sends him spiralling into depression…and a journey of self-discovery. He travels to a small Greek village – which I did, in search of my mother – only to find the man who hurt him has followed him there.
The Greek poet George Seferis once said, “Wherever I travel, Greece hurts me.”
As I began the search for my mother’s memory, she and the country from which we came have hurt me. I will never stop searching for her…or loving her. Until we meet again.