Happy Birthday Kendra – A Day Late and a Dollar Short

by Matilda Butler on June 12, 2019

catnav-interviews-active-3Post #275 – Memoir Writing Tip – Matilda Butler



Kendra Bonnett Birthday Cake

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was Kendra’s Birthday. I really (really!) didn’t forget. I called and wished her a Happy Birthday and we had a great long talk. But as my mother used to say, I’m a day late and a dollar short with a blog post to celebrate Kendra.
And at the end of this post, I have some memoir writing prompts about birthdays (not just your birthday) as a gift to share with you.

As some of your know, Kendra Bonnett and I have been friends forever. Or almost forever. We met in 1978 and have been co-workers, friends, co-authors, and now business partners ever since. It is wonderful to have a long history with another person. We can look back on:
• Writers Conferences where we jointly taught memoir writing (“Do you still have the materials from the Story Circle Conference session?)
• People we’ve known (“Remember Carolyn at FWL? I heard from her recently.”),
• Technology from our past (“I still laugh about the way you drilled holes in the base of the Atari 400 so that it wouldn’t overheat.”)
• Trips (“We had such fun at FiLoLi Gardens.”)
• Product disasters (“Oh no. The 1000 Rosie the Riveter bandanas just arrived as they are all wrong–wrong packaging, wrong hems, wrong tags. I’ll have to send them back.”)
• Writing projects (“Let’s update our Rosie the Riveter Cookbook.”)
• And on and on.

Now to a Present for You of Four Memoir Writing Prompts

• Do you celebrate a friend’s birthday each year? If so, take 10 minutes and write for half that time about what the celebration and the friend mean to you. Then write for the other five minutes about what this means to your friend. In memoir writing, it is important to be able to write about others, using their perceptions.

• Do you still celebrate someone’s birthday even though he or she has died? One of the women I interviewed for our collective memoir, Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman to” Generation Tells Her Story, said she was celebrating her father’s 100th birthday that evening. It turned out that he died when she was a small child. But the family continue to celebrate his birthday each year as a way of acknowledging him. If you do, write for 10 minutes about the person and about her or his contribution to your life. This might be a friend or a family member.

• Extra effort is often put into a birthday celebration when you think it may be the last one for a person. If you have helped celebrate such a birthday, write about the person, who organized the event, where it was held, what food was served, who attended. I remember when my sister organized my mother’s 95th birthday. I fly from California to Oklahoma City to be there and help with some of the last minute details. Mother always believed in developing new friendships with younger people so that her circle of friends, even at her age, never dwindled.

• Have you ever taken a birthday trip? If so, write about it for 10 minutes, capturing the highlights and your favorite memory from that time.

Kendra Bonnett Birthday WishesHappy Birthday Kendra. Have a great year. I celebrate our longstanding friendship and I hope you know how much I admire you.

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