In response to an assignment to write about gratitude during a fall 2013 Osher Intermediate Writing course (taught by Kathi Diamant) Osher student Margie Prestwood, age 91, wrote the following.
Changing What I Can
by Margie Prestwood
With the added sunshine and the warm gentle breezes, green sprouts burst forth on bare limbs and a rainbow of colorful flowers began to appear everywhere. It was early spring, but my mood was still winter. I was the last remaining member of my nucleus family; I had been a widow for over ten years, and all my longtime friends were deceased, plus my son had died at a too early age. My theory had always been “when life gets overwhelming, get occupied, stay busy, and try to stay mentally and physically fit.” I had lots of grandchildren and great grand kids living near, but they had their own life and more problems than I wanted to deal with. I had never been sedate, maybe unorganized, but always active. I did the monthly newsletter and wrote an article for my church, but lately my life seemed very mundane. I needed a new interest and a wider variety of acquaintances. Lo-and-behold the Osher Institute at SDSU catalog showed up in my mailbox within the next day or two. As I scan this publication my thoughts were, “This is perfect. I can walk the mile up to the campus, attend classes, and then walk home— exercise my mind, my body, and meet new people all in one undertaking.”
I paid my dues for Osher, enrolled in a couple classes that sounded interesting, and the book club for the books I wanted to read. I tried to get in a writing class, but it was already filled. After that semester, I was hooked. The sessions were interesting, informative, and the instructors were excellent. The next year I talked to Linda, my Social Security age daughter, into being an Osher student. How many of us get to go to college with our children?
This January I signed up early enough to get a spot in the two Memoir and Life Writing classes, joined the INGly Writers group*, and this Intermediate Writing and Critique class. What a difference these classes and the other students have made in my zest for life! I have sat in a lot of writing classes over the last 40 years, but never one with Kathi Diamant‘s teaching technique. It makes me evaluate my own writing style and try new ones. I have no words to properly express my gratitude to those of you who take the time to critique what I write. This is an invaluable tool for me, one that I have never had before.
I promised myself over 25 years ago that I was going to write my memoir. Now I’m actually doing it, and I am over 13,000 words into the project. I am thankful for all of you who have participated in this journey; I hope to see all of your names in print. Kathi, my gratitude for your guidance, patience and encouragement is beyond the utterance of words. You haven’t seen the last of me.
*The INGly Writers Group are Osher students from the spring 2013 Memoir Class who continue to meet and share their work via the online Big Tent discussion group.