Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

For our final assignment, tell the tale of your most-prized possession. If you’re up for a twist, go long — experiment with longform and push yourself to write more than usual.


Things I Treasure

The Woman at the Donut Shop
After Cee edited the photo that I’ve posted a few days ago and I, learning from Cee’s photo, did some more editing on my version of the same photo, I printed out three copies: 2 of them from Cee, and one was mine. I printed mine out because I wanted to compare it to Cee’s, so I could find out what else I had missed. Since I printed three copies out, I thought, I might as well give all of them to that woman.

We drove to Cannon Falls this morning (6/28) to the donut shop. Sure enough, the woman was there sitting by the window. She waved to me as soon as I got out of the car.

While my husband was ordering donuts, I rushed to the woman’s side and showed her the photos. Her face lit up. She stared at those photos and thanked me at least 3 times — I wasn’t sure if she was aware that she’d thanked me three times. She told me her name is Jane, she has two sons and she is going to give each son one of those photos.

Jane was quite excited, I could tell. I wasn’t going to bother her with how Internet worked, but I really wanted to tell her about Cee’s effort. However, I’d noticed that she was reading my lips when we talked. I speak with Chinese accent, I am sure. Would that cause any problem for her to read my lips? And, to be honest, when someone was only a foot away from me, staring at my mouth, I felt a little uneasy. Also, there was a table of 10 people sitting next to us – I could hardly hear what Jane said. At the end, I decided not to bother to tell Jane what we have done with her photo.

At one point, she asked me if she could pay for the printing fee. I told her it wasn’t much. “It’s a gift,” I said.

She beamed her thanks at me.

Seeing her happy made me happy and that was not something I could buy with money.

Karin, my sister, is seven years older than I am. Seven years shouldn’t create a big gap between us, but for a long time, we seemed living in a different world. When I was in the elementary school, she was a high school girl. When I was in junior high, she was already a college student. And when I finally went to college, she was in the US, attending graduate school. And later she got married and has a couple of kids. She was busy with her life; I with mine.

I don’t remember a lot about Karin before her college years. She attended a University in our hometown so she lived at home; we shared a room. We had several typhoons every year in Taiwan, which, sometimes, resulted one or two hours of electricity outage. Whenever that happened, in the dark, Karin would sing. She had a beautiful voice.

Karin often invited her classmates over, particularly those who came from places far away. Even though my younger sister and I were too young to fit in their group, she never excluded us.

After I graduated from college, I followed Karin’s footsteps attending graduate school at the University of Idaho. By then, Karin had lived in Albany, New York, for a couple of years. I was lonely and scared. On the second day I arrived in the US, I made a collect call to Karin. She was happy to hear my voice. She told me to be strong and said she would see me when school was over. I felt much better after the call.

A year later, I transferred to State University of New York at Albany and stayed at Karin’s house. I started dating… started having some bad days. Whenever I was in a bad mood, no matter how hard I tried to disguise, Karin knew and she would send my cute little niece and nephew to my room to give me hugs. Those were the best medicines.

Later I found a job in Minnesota; Karin moved to Virginia. Karin’s home was still the home I would go to whenever I needed “home”.

Karin and I grew very close.

I wanted to tell you the story about Karin and me; I thought it’s been long enough since her death, but wrong. So, I would stop my story here.

What I’m really trying to say is that I’ve learned to treasure love. Love comes in many different shapes and forms, and I treasure them all. I am blessed with a wonderful family (parents, siblings, husband, daughter, nieces, nephews, grandniece…) and many great friends. Their loves have meant a lot to me. Besides all that, many times, a stranger, like Jane, shows up from nowhere, brightening my day. Could it be that there exists such a special kind of love that we have for each other even before we know each other?

Life is good because we care about each other.

(I want to thank people who work behind Writing 101 workshop. It’s been a wonderful experience. I enjoy every minute of it, even though I had to stay up until 1 am to finish my story a couple of times. THANKS!)


About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
This entry was posted in Memoir, Writing 101. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

  1. pambrittain says:

    Helen, this is beautiful and so full of love. It’s hard for me to believe English isn’t your first language. You have me extremely impressed.


  2. Helen C says:

    Thank you, Pam. I actually have some English questions when I write this. I am a little confused when to use past tense and when present tense. Is it correct to write “She said she has two sons”, or should it be “had”?
    One thing for sure is that my skin gets thicker. I used to worry so much that I couldn’t post anything unless someone reviewed it first. Now making mistakes is ok with me…
    Thanks again.


    • pambrittain says:

      I make mistakes all the time—especially in comments and probably my posts. Not worried about perfection as I have no intentions of publishing my work.

      The answer to your question is, it depends. What made her say that? It really depends on the surrounding events. In reality, it probably wouldn’t matter, so I’d go with ‘has’, but I could be so wrong. Wish WP had e-mail. I’d send you my address, but alas (sigh).

      Any chance you have a site on Gather?


  3. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Helen, lovely post as always. I’m glad Jane liked the photos, and you are right, in this life we should treasure LOVE and not material stuff.


    • Helen C says:

      Hello, Elizabeth, thank you for your kind comment. It was nice to see how much Jane liked the photo. I always wonder what I could do with the pictures I have taken. At least, this photo found a good owner 😉


  4. Cee Neuner says:

    Wonderful stories!! I’m glad that you and Jane had a great connection. 🙂


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