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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gaining Perspective

Sunday, Father's Day, I had a chance to sit and talk with a gentleman who has outlived his wife of 63 years, all of his children, and several of his grandchildren. He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, and spent most his life working in fields and on cars in rural Alabama.

You know what he remembers about D-Day? Apple trees.

Odd, but there you have it. He was dropped into an apple orchard and got lost because his compass slipped out of his pocket on the way out of the plane.

I didn't know there were apple orchards near the fighting. It's not something I would have picked up in a text book, or even from my relatives who survived the wars because they were too young to remember the details.

This older man offers a valuable change in perspective. A welcome change even.

How often in our writing do we remember to change perspective for age?

It's easy to forget that when write. We tend to give our characters a blanket view of history and politics because, after all, we are only one person and there is only so much we can think of.

HOMEWORK: Go find someone well out of your age bracket and get them to talk. Pick any subject, wars, the cost of gasoline, brands of candy, schoolwork... and see if they can't give you some ideas on how to give your writing some added depth.

P.S. The little girl in the black and white photo is the old woman in the second photo. That's my DH's Grandma Dusty: mother of two, grandmother of three, great-grandmother to three when she died two years ago.

She was a navy wife, a member of the Royal Order of the Gecko, and a survivor. She survived the death of her brother in his teens, her parents when she was a young parent, and a few wars and deployments to odd places while she was at it.


  1. Homework? You give homework? It's summer, Liana! SUMMER!
    ...Oh, whatever. I'm missing school a bit anyway...

  2. What a beautiful story. I love the apple tree detail. Who would have guessed? And, some of my dearest friends are much older. I am close gardening pals with my 84 year old neighbor. He cracks me up :D

  3. I love this homework and will get to it this weekend. Thanks!

  4. Great post. I'm actually assigning this stuff all the time to my kids, telling them to go talk to their great-grandfather (who thankfully is still alive and kicking). He has a wealth of knowledge and experience to hand them, and I make sure they learn everything they can from him. My grandparents died when I was fairly young, and so I am envious of anyone who has the opportunity to enjoy time with their own.

  5. Yeah, forget homework in the summer. But still, I love this post. I think writing different ages from what we are can be difficult. Perspective is essential!

  6. I do this on a regular basis when I'm with family. The last time I was with my parents I had them talking about all sorts of things when they were little. My dad turned 80 this year so he's seen a few things in his lifetime. My mother's 77. It's fascinating to hear things they did as children. There's stuff like the snake in the outhouse and weighing trees on the the cotton scales. Someday I may have to write a book about it all.