Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sometimes It's the Little Things

I love ice cream and everyone who knows me well knows I love chocolate, yet I never buy chocolate ice cream.  Give me rich vanilla floating in hot chocolate sauce topped with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry! A few days ago a neighbor I love dearly crossed the street to give me a half gallon of chocolate ice cream.  I thanked her and we laughed about our mutual chocolate addiction before I stuck the ice cream in the freezer, thinking,  "I don't even remember the last time I had plain chocolate ice cream." 

The next day I had an appointment with the doctor who is treating me for my pancreas problem.  She surprised me by telling me that when my older brother died almost five years ago of pancreatic cancer, a small piece of his pancreas was preserved and the piece from my biopsy was being compared to his to see if there is a genetic link between his problem and mine.  If there is, my pancreas will have to be removed; if not then we'll just wait and see if the cysts on mine turn malignant.  Who would have thought a tiny piece of tissue from so long ago could play such an important role in my life today or that my brother could play such a major role in my future five years after his death? 

This bit of information played on my mind on the drive home and my thoughts kept turning to the big brother with whom I shared a surprising number of similarities.  We both loved milk, we both loved acting in plays, we both had asthma and hay fever, he taught me my multiplication tables and how to divide, and we both loved to read.  I turned my thoughts to the tasks I needed to accomplish when I got home including the fact that we have a peach tree, loaded with fruit, that needs to be picked.  It reminded me that my brother loved peach pie piled high with chocolate ice cream.  I didn't bake a pie, but I fixed a heaping bowl of fresh sliced peaches, added a generous serving of the chocolate ice cream my friend gave me, and topped it with whipped cream.  I'm sure it was far more calories than I needed, but it was delicious and I  had a strong feeling my brother was watching and grinning his approval.  It also made me doubt my friend's sudden decision to give me chocolate ice cream was a coincidence. 

I just finished reading a book by Camron Wright that impressed me with his ability to handle coincidences/small miracles in such an easy smooth manner, the reader isn't even quite aware a small miracle has occurred, and if the reader isn't inclined to believe in miracles, the event can be dismissed as luck or a fortunate coincidence. I like this in storytelling because that's the way most miracles occur in life and oddly enough, they seem to carry more emotional impact than the big "hit me over the head" miracles complete with angels or the cavalry do. Just as these small "maybe miracles" touch our hearts and give life and its problems boosts of hope and courage, really good writers touch our hearts in the same way, granting the reader a moment's introspection, bringing to mind a half buried poignant memory, and lighting a candle of faith.

A couple in our ward was chosen by her company to experience a wonderful dream vacation these past couple of weeks.  They traveled to Rome, then to Paris, now onto the London Olympics.  Through the whole trip they have sent back via Face book the many, many pictures they've taken.  Because I know these people and we've been friends for years, it's fun to see their European vacation through their eyes. It's fun, exciting, and I can relate to their feelings and reactions because I know them.  This too, when found in literature, is a sign of good writing.  When the reader knows the characters well enough to see through their eyes, the story becomes stronger, more realistic. 

There is a tendency for writers to try to create bigger explosions, scarier chase scenes, more preposterous monsters, grosser expletives, everything bigger, louder, and more dramatic.  Originality and surprise are great, but it's the careful attention to the small things that often makes a story memorable.  If the heart can identify, the story is a keeper.

1 comment:

Mindi Battraw said...

Ahhh, Jennie, what a nice memory of your brother with the ice cream and peaches (although chocolate ice cream with caramel all over it is the BEST!). Love what you said about getting to know the characters in a story.