How did you find out?

“Let’s call your mother,” my grandma said. It was a sunny summer day. I was home from college.

Mom asked me how things were going. “Nothing earth shattering,” I said. “Here, grandma wants to talk you.”

Grandma asked me to stay in the room and I sat on the floor looking at the squares of sunlight from the 7th floor windows.

grandma, me, and mom
grandma, me, and mom

Grandma told Mom about our breakfast at The Village Inn, and then she said, “Oh, I thought you should know. I have cancer. I found out 2 months ago.”

If I’m not mistaken, it isn’t just what your characters tell you but how they tell. Some are direct. Some waver. Some never tell you how they feel. And some wait 2 months to tell you they are dying.

8 thoughts on “How did you find out?

  1. “it isn’t just what your characters tell you but how they tell. ”

    That’s the key to who and what they are: What they say, what they don’t say, and how it is spoken or unspoken. You are far from mistaken.

  2. yup. what we do. how we handle the hand we are dealt. whether we let people in or shut them out.

    those choices define not only our characters in our novels, but our own character as people.

  3. How we brush our teeth and pay the bills says volumes about who we are. Who we are unfolds through how we communicate our emotions whether through silent action or the words we choose. The way Grandma shared the news tells me so much about who she is. You are right on the money, M. As always I will say keep writing.

  4. If I’m not mistaken, it isn’t just what your characters tell you but how they tell.

    You’re not mistaken. 🙂 Like Natasha says, the way Grandma announced her news says a lot — and not just about her per se, but about her relationships. Even though she told you and your mother at the same moment, it’s not likely that the news hit both of you the same way; she was managing the two relationships differently, with that single act.

  5. I’ve also been thinking about the devastating things people tell others and then they say “don’t tell anyone” and whether a character either keeps or doesn’t keep secrets, or turns everything into a secret, or tells different secrets to different people, and why and how certain people make it not safe to be honest with them, and what that does to a relationship…

  6. rowena and Shelly, yes. Absolutely.

    Natasha, I’ve long that moment said a lot about my grandmother. And she’d tell me to write even if she didn’t like it. Well, she’d probably blame my mother.

    JES, my grandmother’s relationships with my mom and me were greatly different. My relationship with her was much easier of course.

    Sophie, that’s exactly what she did all the time.

    Sarah, oh the secrets. If you’ve been thinking about the nature of secrets, your mind has been busy.

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