My Life is Based on a True Story

Dear Reader:

In the Sarah Addison Allen sequel to Garden Spells (First Frost) one of the main characters’ teenage daughter, Bay, wears fun, creative t-shirts to high school daily. Examples like:

I have not yet begun to procrastinate.” “Either you like bacon or you are wrong.”  :)!

I found myself making a list of a few of them while chuckling to myself…but the last one “My Life is Based on a True Story”  stopped me in my tracks and made me close the book and take some time to absorb the “truth”… or not…behind it.

At first glance the quote comes across as catchy and witty simultaneously. But then…if we stop and give the statement another glance…it begins to change.

Being a history major in college…I remember being confronted by some of the very “serious-minded” history majors (most of whom were going  straight on to grad school after graduation.) If they caught you reading any kind of fiction book, especially historical fiction, a look of disdain would come over them with remarks like…

“You really are wasting your time reading trash like that?” as one eyebrow would shoot high in air accompanied by an incredulous whisper… “and you call yourself a history major?

I would just shrug and go on reading my book…I had read and memorized enough history books to last me a lifetime by the time I graduated…I wanted to read “escape fantasy” books and romances on my “off” time.

I remember thinking to myself that I needed to get up enough courage to challenge some of these “too big for their britches” history grad “nerds” (sorry…old memories die hard 🙂

What my response should have been was “Do you truly believe when you are reading non-fiction that it is completely true…if you do… you are the one with the serious misconception?”

Think about it….even an autobiography written by a famous person (without ghost writers’ input… which is almost unheard of today) is telling his/her story as remembered from feelings and not necessarily through first-hand accounts or actual documented facts.

Could you go back now and write your personal autobiography through memory only and actually believe everything in it happened just as your remembered?

I recall having several of these “aha” moments of disillusionment when I would be with mother and her sister, my Aunt Eva. I would be in the back seat recalling something from my earlier childhood and they would look at each other and say “That’s not how that happened Becky…or that’s not how that incident went down?” “How did you ever think that?”

Don’t we all read rebuttals to so many famous autobiographies from the writer’s  family or friends mentioned in a controversial book who claim that such and such an incident never happened or it certainly never happened the way the author promoted it?

To be fair…the author, him /herself, is often shocked to learn that certain episodes in their lives played out so differently in others’ perspective and memories who were present at the time. We all tend to think what we recall is the truth.

So the question to be asked concerning the phrase “My Life is Based on a True Story”  is ” Is this story only considered true  in the eyes, ears, thoughts, feelings, and memories of the one telling it and the roles others played in it?” Can it stand the test of time and the reflections of other people who were part of the author’s life?


In 2011 Sarah Addison Allen was diagnosed with cancer…like the starting phrase in her first novel (Garden Spells)…it was “The Year Everything Changed.”

For me that year was 2008- the year I was diagnosed with treatable but not curable breast cancer. As I read Sarah’s thoughts on her cancer proclamation…it matched my own so similarly that I have used excerpts from her observation that I want to blend with mine saying  thank you to everyone.

This year is another important year...It was 10 years ago this summer when I started the blog post (2010-2020) and twelve years when I was given a much shorter life expectancy number than what has come to pass! 🙂 🙂 🙂  * I figure I must be a slow spiritual learner or I still have something left to accomplish…only time will tell what?

“My life before and my life after (The Year Everything Changed) are so vastly different that sometimes I think they were lived by two separate people. 

Many of you readers have been with me on this journey from the beginning, many joined me in the middle, and many have come in after. To all of you, I want to say a special thank you for being a part of my life-before, after, and everywhere in between.”

So until tomorrow…(I like the ‘truth’ of this observation…and I will stick with it!)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh






We had two personal anecdotes sent to me on  the ‘power of sunbeams’ -both funny in their truth… in the telling.

Jo Dufford:

“The Mystery of the Stubborn Santa”

About 25 years ago a three-foot seated Santa came to sit on Jo’s hearth. He had a number of sayings but only spoke when he wanted to do so. Frustrated family member would shake him and dance in front of him but he remained stoically mute.

Then out of the blue, when least expected you would hear “Have you been good this year?” in a jolly manner. One night as Joe (Jo’s husband) was slipping into the kitchen for something sweet and chocolate while passing Santa…the old elf spoke again. Kelly witnessed Joe jump higher than he had ever jumped in his life…

When he could get his voice back…Joe growled at Santa and said something like “I ought to kick your hind end.” It became a standing family joke.

This past Christmas while sitting at the kitchen table…Jo heard old’ Santa just start talking away…talking more than he had for over two decades. Jo ran in the den to see what had brought this on….when “what to her wondering eyes should appear “but a SUNBEAM shining through a crack and hitting Santa’s candle at just the right spot. Mystery solved!

Some of the family tried flashlights to beam in on the candle but ole’ Santa knew the difference…only magical sunbeams could bring  him back to life.!

(I was thinking Jo…maybe that has been the ‘santa secret’ all along…not those noisy old reindeer…but magic sunbeams dropping him in and out!)

*On second thought it would probably have to be moon beam ride… Santa has to “hit” while the children are sleeping!


Susan Cadwell:


Judi and I were driving to Mt. Pleasant yesterday to Trader Joe’s, and she told me of a similar situation she was in the other day….when someone’s lights blinded her. In the meantime, I missed our exit. I told her we need a sign to put on our cars with something like “Beware. Senior driver who does not mean to be rude but sometimes does strange things. Doing my best!”


*(I agree…the best is all we can do!) :)))







About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to My Life is Based on a True Story

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    It is ironic that your blog was about this topic today because now that both of my parents are gone suddenly some of my siblings are devating information that could and was given by my Mother when she was alive if they had hyst listened…one Christmas she wtite an essay about Boiling Springs…the early history of Gardner Webb where her parents were very involved and I typed it and bound it …but many left them at her home that night…they were not interested at the time…and now she is not here to clarify…but I still have the infornation and will decide who shoukd see it..


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I spend a lot of time wishing I had written down the stories Aunt Eva and mother would tell me about going to the 1938 World’s Fair in NY…what all the newest inventions were…not knowing that WWII was only three years away for American involvement. There was so much history all around them…why didn’t I keep a journal?


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