Springtime

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Sunday’s postย on loss and grief was quite serious, I know. I appreciate you having read it. As I have had some time to reflect on my feelings since posting it, interestingly I have found a bit of relief in my own words.

And spring is upon us:

Where would writers be without their families and friends to provide them with material? When I fictionalized my mother and my uncle, they were still living. Both died just after I’d essentially finished writing Distances in September 2015.

Excerpt from “Distances.” Click to expand.

In fact, I remember in writing those first three novels actually sitting at my computer and talking to myself as I was transcribing “exchanges” as I recalled them. In a way it was rather like writing “history.”

Inside my family, we had joked over the years that my mom was forever the “Queen of No.” And she knew she was, but simply couldn’t help herself. Disagreements tended to arise between us when I was announcing something (usually because I was happy about it) and she would respond by saying, “No!” – and my dad sometimes got caught in our crossfire:

Excerpt from “Distances.” Click to expand.

She and my uncle argued now and then, too. Sometimes they went at each other in ways outsiders witnessing it would have thought surely had to be “the end” of their relationship. Yet when it was over, no grudge was ever held:

Excerpt from “Frontiers.” Click to expand.

I never used this one in a novel. In one “exchange of views” in front of myself and other family, gesturing at her as she sat with the rest of us at his dining room table, in an exasperated tone he declared to her at last: “How can you talk to me that way! I’m the older brother! You’re supposed to respect the family patriarch!”

She fired back: “Patriarch, my a-s!”

It’s amusing how all these years later I remember those words, but not what they were actually arguing over. What I would give now for a chance to have a real “barnburner” with my mother once more. But that “chapter” in my life is now closed, of course.

Yet in “missing” those now gone from our lives, we may too often overlook who we have with us now:

Receiving my niece’s letter yesterday afternoon helped me feel a bit better. My mom met my niece in 2013 (she is now 19, but was then 15 and had traveled to America with my wife and myself in July for a holiday) and was smitten over the teenager from the moment she met her, fussing over her every which way. It was something else I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

When the burden of loss seems heavier than our hearts can bear, as writers we may also forget that sometimes our own “advice” is found in our own pages:

Sneak Peek from “Conventions.” Click to expand.

When we are grieving, chances are there is a letter or a message we should write to someone living whom we care about, or an overdue phone call that we need to make. We have those who are with us still. We must never forget that.

And as long as we keep memories alive in some way, those we loved never leave us. I suppose I’m pleased now that I have written about my mom and my uncle in the manner I have. As I searched backed through Atlantic Lives novels for this post and re-read those “scenes” this morning for the first time in some time, I laughed more than I have in a long while.

Good thing I am in the house by myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have a good day, wherever you are in the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

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