Memoir Poems: A New Family Tradition

The wedding countdown is on! Anthony and Chelsea not only have their own website, like many couples these days, but both of them are bloggers.

DSC_0142Anthony uses his blog mostly as a “digital home” for networking in social media, although he announced his engagement there, including the playlist of music and the menu.He also loves photography, so he places his Flickr account there.DSC_0053

Chelsea’s blog allows her storytelling skills to unfold. She has shared their emerging love story since May, 2008, and now has a recorded her own narrative of the courtship, engagement, and wedding preparations.

As we prepare for their wedding, we have checked off our own list of responsibilities–except for the last one:

  • new Father of Groom suit and ties
  • Mother of Groom dress, shoes, bag, jewelry
  • plane tickets, room reservations, communications with children, friends, and siblings to help smooth the logistics of a “destination wedding” for them
  • arrival three days before the wedding to help do whatever else needs to be done
  • pray without ceasing (nothing new here, just more intense 🙂
  • pick up a few checks
  • buy white handkerchiefs for groom and groomsmen (a suggestion of Judith Moyers, wife of Bill Moyers, who’s been to many weddings)
  • write a poem!

The engagement party for Chelsea and Anthony in New York (click to read a post with engagement photos)  last May introduced us to Chelsea’s delightful parents, Clayton and Nancy Vaughn. We also learned their family tradition of offering toasts in rhyme. They created a lovely memoir poem for the engagement party and will be offering another at the wedding reception.

The tradition has spilled into the next generation. When we were in Sioux Falls, SD, for the wedding of our nephew Daron, our children, unbeknownst to us, created a memoir poem and read it antiphonally at the breakfast we hosted for Stuart’s siblings.

Here’s the poem:

Young Lovers: An Ode to Stuart and Shirley

The story of Stuart and Shirley begins at EMC.

Where Stuart edited the Weathervane with glee

Shirley was his tenacious young cub reporter.

And wrote for the paper long before he did court her.

Neither knew she was his bride-to-be.

Stuart started the flirtation with a written correction.

And from their witty exchange grew true affection.

Their courtship took place in Shenandoah Valley.

They married in Pennsylvania and did not dally.

For the honeymoon, Nova Scotia was Stuart’s surprise selection.

Stuart was a farm boy with ambitions, for sure.

Shirley dreamed of books and drove through the barn door.

They brought big families with them as they went to the altar.

Harley, Frank, Stuart, Ruel, Hollis, Sharon, Welby, and Myron were the siblings Showalter.

Shirley, Henry, Sue, Doris, and Linda were the Hershey family corps.

They went southwest to Austin for their degrees.

Then journeyed to Goshen and fit in with ease.

Anthony came along in 1976.

Kate arrived six years later to spice up the mix.

The family grew up among the Maple Leafs.

In Goshen they taught and spent almost 30 happy years.

They enjoyed College Mennonite and J-Group, but not many beers.

Haiti, DC, the Ivory Coast, and North Carolina were home for a while

The last eight years brought new responsibilities, which they handled with style.

The Goshen College Music Center received many cheers.

Now they’re in a new stage of life in Kalamazoo

With biking, book club, and a dance floor in the basement, there’s so much to do.

To relax, they sit on the deck and look at the weeping willow tree.

Shirley reads and writes memoir and during March Madness, Stuart roots for UNC.

Expert short-order cook Stuart can make blueberry pancakes and sausage too.

Much has changed since 1969 when their marriage had its debut.

They drove a Ford Fairlane but today have a hybrid that talks to you.

Composing dissertations on typewriters was quite a feat.

Now they write on Facebook, blogs, and can even send a tweet.

Online, Stuart tracks friends and family, stocks, sports, and all that is new.

So here’s to them, our forty-year lovebirds,

Their happiness built in service, caring, fun, and words.

In them, two S’s met and formed a heart.

May their sour cherry pies be sweet and tart.

We’re so grateful that their marriage occurred.

This poem and the reading of it by our children and their chosen ones brought tears to my eyes, of course. But now it’s our turn to write one.

We wonder if any of you have advice or experience to offer? If you request it, we will share the poem–after the wedding next Saturday!


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About Shirley Hershey Showalter

Author of memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World. Blogging about Magical Memoir Moments and Jubilación -- vocation in the second half of life.
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4 Responses to Memoir Poems: A New Family Tradition

  1. Gutsywriter says:

    How exciting for you. I have no experience with writing poetry, but for me, I would focus on the excitement that life can bring to a relationship if only you are willing to take risks, and make sure you nurture one another especially when you are raising your children.

  2. alittlesandy says:

    I love the whole concept of this blog! I also love when forms and genres overlap and cross boundaries, like novels and memoirs written in poems form. Great post! Thank you also for stopping by my blog.

  3. shirleyhs says:

    Thanks, Sonia. These two themes are great ones and come from your own experience, confirmed by my own. They just might show up in the toast!

  4. shirleyhs says:

    Thanks so much for stopping by to see me. I hope we can visit each other often. Now off to New York!!

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