Our common journey through our patchwork of stories....
Written by
Gwendolyn Plano
September 2014
Written by
Gwendolyn Plano
September 2014

When I was a young child, countrywomen gathered to sew quilts for special events. My mother took us with her when she met with her friends in the basement of the local rural church. Sometimes I snuck under the stretched material on the large wooden frame and listened as the women stitched and knotted. They talked about their families, about their hardships and about love. When they cried, I cried–even if I did not quite understand. It was their emotion that spoke to me.The cloth leftovers rhythmically sewn one to another helped me see the interconnectedness of life. And as I began writing my memoir, I realized I was creating my own quilt of sorts—through a patchwork of stories.

Even before I put pen to paper, I was awakened in the early morning hours with scenes, faded by time. Drawn into the story they revealed, I began to write. Soon pages of text accompanied these reveries and though I captured some of these glimpses of insight in my writing, others hid and waited—for yet another night. My crowded desk of post-it notes became my companion and sometimes friend, helping me bring the pieces together.

This process, unexpected and bewitching, guided me through the corridors of my heart, where I wrestled with haunting flashbacks and elusive threads of connection. The years of abuse were long past and in tow—its numbness. I could feel again; and, the tears and gasps came and went—because they could.

One story after another unfolded on paper, as sections from frayed journals and yellowed family photos came alive and spoke to me. The dramas that once controlled my life and held me captive were but ailing memories, soon to meet their demise. And as I gazed upon this human collage of struggles and apprehensions, I was humbled by another story that emerged.

I realized that my journey was everyone’s journey. I had thought I was alone.

The person I was decades ago lives only in ashen memories. Hardships have carved the landscape of my youth, shifting dreams and opening horizons. I barely know the adolescent me who trekked unburdened by reason. But as I look back over the years, I now see the terrain she must travel to become who I am today.

Through choices, some chilling but otherwise ordinary, we find our way. While I might take one road and you another, we all face adversity, and we all experience sorrow, fear or regret at some point in time. And, don’t we all go through life trying to make sense of it all?

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