Margarita Writers Group

In Barb’s Own Words

Like Pat, my early- to mid-adult life was overtaken by the ups and downs of living. Being unprepared to successfully negotiate adulthood in the larger, secular world I had embraced, I spent many years struggling to ‘find myself.’ It wasn’t until I was almost fifty that my life felt stable enough to reflect on who I was, where I came from, and what I had learned. It was at this point that my interest in writing was piqued.
When the three of us started talking about writing stories to document our lives, I deferred. I felt too emotionally raw to have any desire to write personal memoirs. While I was delighted to be finishing my first book and proud to receive significant interest in it from the Mennonite community I’d been raised in, I was satisfied and quite frankly exhausted by the project. I wanted to support Christa and Pat in their endeavours but I wanted to take a break from writing myself.

I may also have been guilty of taking the easy way out. If I supported them and reminded them that I had already successfully completed a large writing project, they wouldn’t press me to write personal stories. I had already achieved what they were trying to start, I told myself. There was no real need for me to write about my personal life. I think I did not have the courage for introspection, but I desperately wanted to remain part of the Margarita Writers Group!

After two winters of margarita happy hours, Pat had written a number of personal stories which she had shared with us along the way. She and I stayed connected over the months that we lived in our northern homes, sharing our interest in writing. She sent me drafts of her work to review, and I was excited to read her vignettes: It seemed to me that she had had such an interesting life. Christa, on the other hand, was busy doing many other personal projects. Her children and grandchildren lived thousands of miles apart, so her summer months were spent traveling to visit them. Her creative energies were temporarily stifled.

Serendipitously, I was enticed once again to write after attending a reunion of my student nurse classmates. During that event, we shared many stories of our student days. One of my colleagues brought along her yearbooks and other photographs of our time together, which caused us so much shared laughter that I began to think they should be recorded. Perhaps they might even be interesting to a more general audience, so I began to write a series of stories entitled ‘Tales of a Student Nurse.’ These stories have been deliciously fun to write, and with each completed episode, I remember more from those days that I want to write about.

Now I begin to look ahead. There are stories from my life as a career nurse, mother, grandmother, and wife that I’d like to write. I have so many great stories to tell that I think I might just write them for the generations who will come long after me, but then again, maybe I will just write them for my own enjoyment.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
Barbara Tiessen is a retired RN who lives with her husband in southwestern Ontario but winters in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. She researched her genealogy, wrote and self published The Schoenfeld Russlaender: A Mennonite Family's History in 2015. More recently her interest have focused on writing short stories. Pat Born Smith is a retired nonprofit administrator who resides in Maine but heads to South Texas when the snow starts to fly. Among other things, she has written curricula for middle and high school teachers on ethical decision making.
2 Responses
  1. author

    Maggie1 year ago

    Love this short story, hope more to come. You go girls!!!!,,,

  2. author

    James Short9 months ago

    Good setup. Then the descent into alcoholism, the racist slur against out neanderthal ancestor and always… writing. You ladies have written an interesting story of ‘how’,’why’ and ‘where’, approached ‘what’ and ‘when’, and always… margaritas. It’s a love story. And I liked it.


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