My renewed interest in creative writing was sparked by a narrative medicine seminar taught by Suzanne Poirier while she was on sabbatical at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. As Director of the Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education and a Professor of General Internal Medicine, I often write papers describing educational research. Essays offer an opportunity to write about more personal aspects of my life.
My first published creative nonfiction piece, “The Promise,” was published in the March/April 2007 issue of Golf for Women. For that piece, and for this one, the most enjoyable part has been doing historical research to confirm or expand my recollections of events. Sometimes this involves conversations with family members, in other cases a search through the popular press.
This piece grew out of an exercise in which we were asked to bring in a photograph and write about it. I found an old Polaroid picture of my mom, dad, and me standing next to my mom’s Mustang convertible. On the back of the photo it said, “Easter, 1969,” so I called my brother to find out why he wasn’t in the picture. He said he was reporting for active duty at Fort Benning, Georgia, that day. That discussion and further conversations led to this essay.