Designated Daughter: D.G. Fulford

Mother and daughter collaborate in this new memoir, a celebration of a new life stage familiar to every caregiver and her aging parent.

By Wendy Rodewald
Mother and daughter: Phyllis Greene and D.G. Fulford (Photo: Marcia Smilack)
I’m going to fall down on the floor that day, but my brothers will be there, and maybe that’s where they come in as "designated." You’ve dedicated yourself to preserving family histories — you wrote To Our Children’s Children with your brother Bob Greene, you co-founded to help people tell their life stories, and now in Designated Daughter you’re passing down a part of your own story. What’s so valuable about these histories? DF: All this business is floating around you all the time, as far as family history. Our minds do it naturally — our minds are always going home. Even if you think about wheeling your grocery cart by stew cubes, and you remember your mom’s beef stew and the pot she cooked it in — I mean, it’s just there. For me it comes naturally and I’ve made my living this way. I was columnist for seven years, [writing about] my daughter and me; and you gain perspective by writing it down. You begin to see things when you put them on the page, and you begin to gain a lot of self-respect. You don’t have to be a writer — start with a few writing prompts, questions. I am an evangelist for family history because I know what this means to people. How has your relationship with your mother affected your relationship with your own daughter, Maggie? DF: Maggie and I have both grown up a lot. She has become my shoulder to lean on in long, long-distance phone calls, which speak straight to my familiar heart. Maggie can see the forest for the trees when I cannot, and she can talk me through a breakdown, and make me laugh. We have reached another level of love and I am one button-bursting Memaw. It’s yet another bonus from the bonus years. More joy to temper the sorrow. What have you learned through these last nine years as a Designated Daughter? DF: I’ve learned that this time I’ve feared since I was a child and watched Bambi’s mother die — I was so traumatized, truly — getting to 59 years, nine of them which have been spent in the true light of my mother — I have learned that this scary, scary time can be the most wonderful surprise. For the first time, I’ve felt like I’m in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing, and that feels terrific.Join MORE and Voice books for "Getting Better All the Time," a workshop series featuring D.G. Fulford and more authors. See dates and interact with fellow readers at Learn more about the series Visit Voice books online Get started writing your family history at The Remembering Site, co-founded by D.G. Fulford and Sarah McCue. Originally published on, July 2008.

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