It’s Grandparents Month: Memoir Writers (Would be and Actual) Take Note

by Matilda Butler on September 29, 2015

Writing Prompt LogoPost #218 – Women’s Memoirs, Writing Prompt – Matilda Butler


Memoir and GrandparentsThis is Grandparents Month. I learned this interesting tidbit from the website of a friend, Diana Paul. [You’ll hear from Diana next month when she answers my questions about her new book.] Diana hosted Jane Hanser who has such an interesting perspective on grandparents. That made me think about what a great topic this is for writing prompts.

I knew my two grandmothers much better than I did my grandfathers. I have a photo of me in the same room with both of my paternal grandparents when I was quite young. I don’t really remember the occasion. My grandfather, about a decade older than my grandmother, died not long after that. Because I was named for this grandmother (my first name Matilda comes from my paternal grandmother), I’ve always felt close to her even though we didn’t spend much time together. And my maternal grandparents? I knew my grandmother fairly well (my middle name, Lou, comes from my maternal grandmother, Lou LaVona) as she lived with my parents for many years.

Or I thought I knew my maternal grandmother.

I was shocked, when decades later, I read my grandfather’s obituary. I was going through a set of papers in my mother’s home and noticed an article clipped from an old newspaper. I don’t even know why I decided to read it. Almost immediately, I saw this was the obituary of my grandfather and that he was survived by his wife…a woman whose name I had never seen. I never knew that my grandparents were divorced. Talk about a shock. Even now, fifteen years later, I find it surprising. This was never mentioned by either of my parents nor my grandmother.

Now, as a grandparent to three, I find that I’m trying to become the kind of grandparent I wish I’d had and the kind that my children would have liked. I won’t succeed completely, but I’ll give it my best. By remembering, by looking back, I hope I can shape my future as a grandparent.

The memoir writing prompts below are designed to help you look backward at the grandparents you had and use that knowledge to look forward to become the kind of grandparent you want to be. Changing our future is one of the benefits of memoir writing.

Memoir Writing Prompts

1. Think about one of the grandparents you knew as a child. Describe what she (or he) looked like. Write about one specific occasion. What did you do with your grandparent? What did each of you say? Create a scene that is clear and evocative of the time and place.

2. Write for 10 minutes about your childhood experiences with grandparents. What names did you call them? Did they live near you? How often did you see them? Were they good role models to you for how to be a grandparent? If so, write about what they did in their role modeling. If not, write about an example of what you hope you never do as a grandparent.

3. What are the five characteristics you think a model grandparent would have?

4. If you could pass on one life lesson to your grandchildren, what would it be?

5. Whether you have grandchildren or not, imagine a perfect day with grandchildren. What would you do? Where would you go? What would you talk about? What would you wear? What would you eat? What would you want them to remember about that day when they are grandparents themselves?

Hope you enjoyed these writing prompts. We are all so busy that it is hard to allow time for the slowness of a relaxed grandparent/grandchild time. If you have the opportunity, set up some grandparent time for this week. Even if your grandchildren live far away, you can Skype them. I know one woman who reads a bedtime story to her grandchild each evening. Talk about sweet. Think of ways you can connect with your grandchildren or the grandchildren of friends. Think about passing on some stories from your childhood.

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