My Picnic Table and the Head of the Table

I’ve never shied away from volunteering for an opportunity that I’ll later regret. As I read “Structure: Beyond the picnic-table crisis” I had an exact idea of how one of my experiences related. I do enjoy taking on new challenges. While I’m not always comfortable in the moment, I let my ambition get ahead. This could be considered a character flaw, but I see it as character building. I’ve provided myself with plenty of chances to fail, but I’ve also found opportunities to succeed.

I’ll provide a little back story to my story. My father was the youngest of six siblings and I was his youngest of six children. My father was fifty when I was born. My cousins all had children older than myself. My dad died of cancer when I was a teenager and I lost contact with that entire side of my family. We never had much in common and we were never really close. Sometime after I was married in 2001, I came across his sister, my aunt, while shopping. It took us both a minute to recognize each other. We began to chat and exchanged information. She was nearing eighty, her husband had just passed away and she had moved into a retirement community.

We started to talk quite often and both enjoyed catching up. She provided me with stories about my dad and I provided her with company. This had been going on for about a year when she announced she was having an elaborate eightieth birthday party. I was invited to attend. I still hadn’t seen her children and her many relatives in a long time. I was apprehensive about going, knowing it would be awkward. Shortly after I committed to go I was asked to speak and provide a blurb about her in the program. I said I would. In the months that followed I was in full regret.

I gathered all the information on her that I could. I reached out to people of which I had no memory. I was taking notes and was going to prove I was justified to sit next to her at the head table. I was going to stand, speak and remove all my personal doubt. Finally I sat and looked at what I’d gathered and I had no idea how to formulate it all into something meaningful.

It was hard to write a speech and a summation that didn’t come across as a timeline. I had to look through the information and be willing to discard things that would take away from the narrative. I had to come up with a theme and follow that. I tied in plenty of the information new to me, but only if it supported what the celebration was about. This experience will help me navigate what goes into my literacy narrative. It will help provide a filtering process that provides a clear result.

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2 thoughts on “My Picnic Table and the Head of the Table

  1. It’s great that you have an experience you can use to help structure other pieces of work. I think it’s very interesting, using that filtering process, as you put it. I’m sure it will definitely prove to be useful.

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  2. I love how you’ve organized this, by framing it first and then telling the backstory. I think that last line of your first paragraph about failing and succeeding could be your main point/theme for your larger literacy narrative. Good job!

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