On the TV evening news the other day I saw a great video about Grandma Moses, the remarkable woman who became a successful painter at the age of 76. She took up art when arthritis made her give up the embroidery she enjoyed during her retirement. Because people loved her artworks and bought them, she went on doing them until her death at 101, by which time she had produced nearly 1500 paintings, mostly from her memories of country life.
As I listened to her story I was struck by the many similarities between her life and mine, especially when she said, “I just like to keep busy.” I too had raised five children, ran a home and had a full-time job. Like Anna Mary Moses, I published a memoir at the age of 88, only in words instead of paint. once I saw it in print, I couldn’t stop for ten years, and produced two more books of autobiography, as well as a novel and a storybook for children.
But the works that mean the most to me are the three memoirs, because they explore a woman’s life through three of the most critical periods of the twentieth century, and think they are contemporary accounts of those times we all lived through -- the social upheaval of the Russian Revolution, the economic crises of the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the desperate years of World War II. Those times changed our world forever, and only a few of those of us who lived through them are still here to tell what those lives were like.
I imagine that Grandma Moses, just as I do, believed that it’s never too late to tell the stories that so many have experienced but only a few have the words to share.