To Include or Not to Include? That is the Question…

In trying to wrap up these final chapters of my novel “Unforgettable (Trudy’s Story)” I find that I keep bouncing back and forth on just what stories to include and what information is not truly necessary.  After all, I am telling a life story that spanned 78 years.  If I’m not careful, this book will have to be written in volumes!

Maybe it was her Irish heritage, but my mom was a cornucopia of funny, interesting and sometimes tragic tales that she told with a vigor, enthusiasm and humor that would capture your interest and more often than not, leave you thirsty for more!  I was her biggest fan, begging her to repeat certain stories over and over again as I drank in every word, reliving those moments with her as if I had been there.

The stories I have tried to cover have been the ones that I have felt best explain what shaped my mother into the person that she was.  A good book should take you on a journey into the main character’s very soul and leave you feeling emotionally bonded to them.  While covering her early life, I knew just what to tell but in the two or three decades before her death, there is just so much to cover.  It is very important that in reading my words, my mother’s life takes shape in the readers mind, pulling them into her life by understanding completely what made her into the woman she was.

Like everyone, her life was filled with big events that helped to build her character.  Some were wonderful blessings such as marriage, childbirth, new homes etc. while others like death, illness, cancer, hard financial times were far more challenging but undeniably just as life shaping.

Then there are the smaller events.  Things that simply “happen” along the way in our day-to-day living, that carry life altering impact, albeit on more of an emotional level. Life lessons; if you will!  You know what I mean… the little things that happen to one that affect the inner-child in us.  These things could happen on an almost daily basis, which brings me back to my quandary; how much do I include and when am I doing a disservice to her bio?

Should I acknowledge the incident in which my sister Theresa; while a baby, accidently knocked out my mother’s front top tooth?  Theresa was being potty trained at the time.  Although potty-seats of today are made of light-weight plastics, back in the day, they were constructed of wood with a stainless steel bowl that slid in under the chair.  As part of my mom’s technique to train her babies, the seat was brought into any room the child was in at the time.  It would be there as a visual reminder for the child to use it as soon as they felt the need. 

This particular day, mom was playing on the floor with Theresa and at one point she rolled onto her back, lifting the baby over her.  She would playfully say “come and kiss your mommy,” lowering the baby to her face, she would kiss her cheek.  As children do at that age, Theresa would giggle loudly each time.   At about the fifth lift, the potty chair caught Theresa’s eye.  She reached out for it and grabbed onto one of the seat’s arms, lifting it from the floor.  Mom instinctively turned to see what the baby was grabbing, just as the seat swung with pendulum-like motion towards her unprotected face.  The leg of the chair hit her square in the mouth with so much impact; it knocked her tooth right out of place and onto her tongue!

In today’s world, one could simply go to the dentist and have a single tooth implanted into place, leaving you with the same smile you started with.  However this techknowledgy was not available in the mid-1960’s.  The only thing the dentist could offer mom was either a bridge; in which they pulled three additional teeth and made a bride that was held into place with silver wire that hugged around her eyeteeth or, have what they called a “partial” made.  It would actually be a partial denture of the four teeth that would also slip into place.  Either of these two options would leave her revealing the mechanics of their structure each time she smiled.  Mom was not a vain woman.  In fact she never realized her own beauty, but having people see that her front teeth were quite categorically artificial, was simply not an option to her.  The only way out was to have all of her top teeth removed and have an upper denture plate made to replace them.

It took five dentists before she found one who was willing do the procedure.  The others were against pulling a mouthful of perfectly healthy teeth solely for cosmetic reasons.

The first step was to have a mold casted of mom’s own teeth so that the dentures would actually be a replica of her true smile.  Once the dentures were made and arrived in the dentist’s office, mom headed down to bravely have all of her teeth pulled and the denture slipped right into place.  Although she was only 42-years old at the time, and I know it affected her psyche, she never regretted her decision and no one ever knew her secret.

This is just one example of stories I am unsure about.  There are dozens more with equal bearing but again… when does it become too much information?

Of course the tale would be told in a story format that takes the reader into the situation not quite as bullet pointed as it was laid out before you here.

In the end, the decision can only be my own.  I suppose professional editing will also delete anything deemed unnecessary anyway.

I guess the reason I am unloading this on you my readers, is to better explain to those who are after me to just “finish the darn thing and get it over with,” that it’s not quite as easy as it seems.  That said, seeing my dilemma in print does help to clear it up in my mind.  Perhaps it is better to over write and edit, than it is to under write and risk leaving out something the readers may find interesting, funny or critical to the development of Trudy’s character.

Hmmm… this turned out to be quite helpful to me!  Thanks for your ear…

Until next time,

Don

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