Bemused to be the muse

posted March 21, 2016 10:20 a.m. (CDT)
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To the editor:

As writers we send our words into the void, hoping they find someone who needs them. More often than not we never know who, if anyone, they may have touched. Feedback came to me recently in a most circuitous way.

Marjory Olsen Olson reached me by telephone at the library where I work as an aide back in mid-January. She credited me with resurrecting a memory of the wood cookstove that was so prevalent in her childhood home and thanked me profusely for doing so. I’d written a brief piece about my sister and me dressing in front of the kitchen stove while our brothers did the same in the living room — my earliest childhood memories of a house with no central heat. Surprised she’d even seen the piece I thanked her. We chatted only briefly, but it was gratifying that something I’d written touched off such a spark for a woman I didn’t even know. A shared link between two women a generation apart. She is 80. I am 58. That commonality felt good, but I quickly stored the memory away and returned to the tasks of the day.

When the Feb. 10 issue of The Country Today arrived my husband began saying my name. My full name. Aloud. Annoyed I politely asked him what in the world he was doing. He replied that my name was all over the page he was reading. As an aside, and in my own defense, I was down with the flu, exhausted, in pain and a bit cranky. My terse rejoinder? “I’ve never entered anything in ‘Yarns of Yesteryear.’ What are you talking about?”

It was Marjory’s story. The one I’d sparked the reminder of. Right there on the front of Section B. I could have cried. Apologizing I explained to him how it had all come about, including my brief telephone conversation with the author. In turn he read the story of Marjory’s somewhat unusual home; living quarters as part of a railroad depot, aloud to me. What wonderfully vivid memories she shared!

Astonished, humbled and frankly surprised I had become “the muse” we writers so often seek, I have tucked the story in with other favorite keepsakes of the written kind.

That story lifted my spirits when they needed lifting.

Since I have no other way of reaching her, I am writing this letter in hopes that Marjory is a subscriber to this paper, will see it and accept my sincere appreciation.

Thanks for sharing, Marjory.

Karen Dums

Park Falls

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