Hazel Higgins' brother was born without arms, but that didn't stop him from living life to the fullest. He was married twice. He had four children. He could even drive.
"He used his left foot to steer and his right foot to work the clutch, brake and everything else," Higgins recalled. "He could even drive dump trucks and backhoes."
Set in the Colorado hills, Higgins is writing the story of her brother and the rest of her family growing up on a ranch in her memoir entitled, "My Brother, Eddie."
It is part of the memoir and autobiography class offered at Western Nevada Community College on Tuesdays from 2 to 5 p.m.
Higgins said it has been difficult for her to remember how her brother struggled when he was younger to learn to accomplish everyday tasks.
"The gratifying part of that is that he did learn how to do it all," she said. "He said the hardest thing in life was to ask anyone for help, and he seldom ever did."
She is more than half done with her work and is thinking about having it published.
"It would be a great help to people that are handicapped," she said. "Let's face it, there are very few of us that don't have a handicap of some kind."
Higgins said the class has helped her clarify her thoughts and give her direction in writing her history.
"It was very, very helpful to me and to the others in the class," she said. "We knew we wanted to write something but we didn't quite know how to do it. They helped us put it in readable form."
Marilee Swirczek and Ursula Carlson team teach the class that encourages students to dig up memories then turn them around into some form of literary work.
"We're getting these incredible stories that need to be told," Swirczek said.
With the coming of the new millennium, she said people feel a sense of urgency to preserve the history of the last century.
She said students also feel a sense of responsibility to future generations.
"If we do not write the stories then we will lose what we've been through," said Anne Clancy, a student.
Each student brings to the class a unique life experience to be preserved as part of the American heritage.
Some grew up on ranches, others in the Great Depression and some tell the stories of growing up in foreign countries then moving to the United States.
"We've all cried in class together and we've also laughed a lot," Swirczek said. "The students have become very important to each other."
Swirczek and Carlson may put together some stories from the class to be published in an anthology.
The first class was offered last semester as a response to numerous requests and is being taught again this semester. The last day to register for the class is Friday, but Carlson said students may call her office or Swirckzec's to be enrolled after the deadline.
An additional one-credit class will be offered to help students bind their work with photos and illustrations and make it available by Christmas.
To register for the memoir and autobiography class call Marilee Swirczek at 445-4248 or Ursula Carlson at 445-4269.