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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Words’ Worth

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Originally published October 19, 2007

This column is reprinted with permission from The Hills Newspapers.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But, it’s also true that words alone can paint a picture.

That was my experience when I heard local writers read their work recently. Several members of The Wednesday Writers of Oakland read from their latest anthology “Something that Matters: Life, Love, and Unexpected Adventures in the Middle of the Journey”. The writers are women from Piedmont, Oakland, Berkeley and other parts of the Bay Area. In intimate stories, they reveal their own experiences growing-up, having families, getting older, and sometimes facing serious illness.

Like looking at old family pictures, Irene Sardanis took me back to childhood with her story “The Tree”. The story recalls an episode from her youth with her chronically depressed single mother. Although everyone’s childhood is different, Sardanis’ vulnerability is familiar. As children, all of us have little say in our lives, shaped as they are by the adults around us.

Revealing a more grown-up picture, Lori Rosenthal shared her personal grooming routines as a woman of a “certain age”. In “Tools of the Maintenance Trade”, she humorously details all too familiar efforts to fend off the hands of time. Armed with a hair colorist, dermatologist, and dentist (for receding gum line), Rosenthal shows in more than one way this is a battle none of us fights alone.

The sound of clinking glass was audible in Beatrice Motamedi’s story about a family dinner. In “Spring Forward, Fall Back”, she evokes a realistic picture of family life. Her feelings of pleasure and anticipation over a long awaited family gathering are dampened when plans go awry.

Despite the imperfect results, Motamedi is able to recognize a perfect moment – when everyone she loves is with her. Something else is imperfect, however, in Motamedi’s family picture. It’s her breast cancer. Her reference to it is so slight, it can almost be missed in the ultimate joy of the story.

What cannot be missed about this new anthology is the fact that all proceeds from its sale will be donated to the Carol Ann Read Breast Health Center at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. This second book from this group of writers follows one published in 2003 that made it onto the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bay Area paperback bestseller list. Those proceeds went to the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at the University of California San Francisco.

In their stories, these writers create pictures with words. Like stepping into a picture, you experience their lives. You think their thoughts and feel their emotions. No two-dimensional picture can quite do that. So, in some ways, words can be worth more than a picture. When those words are helping fight breast cancer, they are worth even more.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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