“When I was your age ...” Cliché it may be, but kids are sure to have heard the nostalgic phrase from their elders more than a few times. For them to actually listen to the recollections that follow is another thing.
“When I was your age ...”
Cliché it may be, but kids are sure to have heard the nostalgic phrase from their elders more than a few times. For them to actually listen to the recollections that follow is another thing.
But according to Beth Cameron-Kilbridge, a grandparent’s desire to tell those stories may be as easy as putting them to paper.
“You don’t have to be a writer to tell a good story,” said Cameron-Kilbridge, a writer and journalist from Weymouth. “If you’ve lived a good life, you’ve got a good story.”
Cameron-Kilbridge, who teaches writing workshops for seniors at the Whipple Senior Center in Weymouth and at the Rockland Senior Center, also held a writing workshop for grandparents at Buttonwood Books in Cohasset earlier this year. The idea, based on a similar program in Boston, was first proposed at the Whipple Center, she said, where it garnered a strong response from residents.
“There’s an audience,” Cameron-Kilbridge said. “There are a lot of people getting older.”
The weekly classes cost students $3 to $4 per class. About 10 people attend each of the classes – two in Weymouth and one in Rockland – and seniors are welcome to join the class at any time.
Cameron-Kilbridge acknowledges that the hard part is often that grandchildren don’t show an interest in their grandparents’ lives.
But if a story is written out, they’ll be more likely to pick it up and read it.
“The memoir right now is becoming very very popular,” Cameron-Kilbridge said.”
“You have to write something that you’re proud of,” she said. After all, “maybe it’s such a good story, you publish it.”
Fran MacFawn, of Weymouth, who started taking the writing classes in the spring, has gotten a kick out of writing about her life experiences, everything from a memorable camping trip to some of her earliest childhood memories. She looks forward to sharing the stories with family.
“I just love the class,” she said. “Some of us are better writers than others, but it doesn’t make a difference. We all enjoy each other’s stories. I’ve written between 25 and 30 short stories about certain incidents in my life. It’s things that should be written and preserved. Now my daughter wants me to copy all of my stories and send them to her.”
At times, people have trouble deciding what to write about, so Cameron-Kilbridge often gives her students suggestions.
“Take a little time and think out something that puts a smile on (your) face,” Cameron-Kilbridge said.
In particular, she suggests grandparents think back to things they did for the first time, such as riding in an airplane. Cameron-Kilbridge said people will often recall times they’ve gone overseas in the 1930s and ‘40s, for example.
She said also to consider some major accomplishments in one’s lifetime. As in the days before TV, it could be as simple as writing about how radio shows fueled the imagination and served as nightly entertainment.
“I try to encourage people to not think of telling their grandchildren their life story,” Cameron-Kilbridge said, “(but) to tell them a moment in time.”
For MacFawn, who had never written stories previously, the class has created a new interest.
“I look forward to it,” MacFawn said. “It keeps your mind active and gets you thinking. It beats bingo.”
For more information about the classes in Weymouth, call 781-682-6140; in Rockland, call 781-871-1266.
Additional reporting by Dina Gerdeman
The Patriot Ledger