Writer’s Block and Other Longings

Writer’s Block and Other Longings.

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This a message I recieved from my cousin. So many word pictures here!

Carol Hollifield says:

Karen, I just read the article you wrote about our Grandmother. We really were blessed to have Grandparents like we had.I think both sets of mine were very special and have wonderful memories of them.I’m so thankful my children knew and remember Grandmother Walsh.They remember her sense of humor.They remember her saying “SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR!” And Paul remembers her going to visit him and Sandy when they were married.A lot of her sayings come to me on different occasions. Same with the Leach Grandparents.We are also lucky that we had the kind of caring parents we had with good strong morals that they taught us through actions and love.They set good examples before us.As for our family,we didn’t have much ,but we always knew mother and Daddy loved us and I’m sure you and Robin felt that too. When My children, say “Mom I think you did a good job raising us,” I give Mother and Daddy the credit because that was the only way I knew, as I was still a child raising a family of my own.I remember one time Mother and I were in the drug store and we met a friend of Mother’s who she hadn’t seen in a while and Mother was telling her about Margaret being in Nursing School and how wonderful she was doing.I felt like such a failure,doing nothing with my life but getting married and having babies.Can’t remember just what I said,but Mother knew how I was feeling and she told me raising a family was the hardest job a women could ever do and if I did it well ,that would be a great accomplishment.I’ll never forget her telling me that.My parents and grandparents and Don made me the person I am today and I thank them for that. I also remember Granddaddy Walsh going to the store Barefoot.He would go through the woods to Butler’s Grocery Store.I always thought that was funny.Grandmother would say “Daddy why don’t you put on some shoe’s”and he would just go on.

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Writers’ Block and other bad stuff and some good stuff

I really do long for better writing skills. I describe this skill one with ideas flowing so fast I could hardly write them down before the next one popped in my head. I just hate the vacant feeling I get when I sit down to write and nothing comes to mind. This usually occurs when I have a deadline to meet. This feeling is so depressing. It even has a smell. How does it smell? Like dry odorless powder that only clogs your nasal passages and makes it hard to breathe. It even tastes bland, like nothingness mush. It also feels so slow. Slow. Not like molasses in January, that is too flavorful a word. More like boring, emptiness. Not even stark, that is too good a word to describe how this feels. Words can be so powerful. I want to write like Shelia in my Story circle group. She writes in such a way that she creates a story so alive that you feel you are right there in the room. I remember her writing about hearing feet shuffling in church. If that is not a word picture, I do not know what is. I want to write with clarity like Jan, our co-leader. She writes about a woman she knew well long ago in such a way that I really feel like I knew her too. Jan also has a great gift for gently getting telling you what you need to hear. For example, I remember one time she told me only a lawyer would write that a person “stated” something. So True. I want to write about nostalgic times like Priscilla. Remember the pan with the knife going right through it? I do. If you haven’t read that one, I can get it for you. I want to write with imagination like Susan. Hey, wasn’t Prudence was left raising those kids in her self published novel!! Tell us more! If only I could use humor like Dianne. I can still see her two year old brother being brought into her mother’s card game wrapped in burial sheath. So funny. There is a story there for sure.
Yes, all my Story Circle friends are great teachers. I know I am a better person and hopefully am becoming a better writer for going there and listening to their stories!

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The Horse

Once upon a time there lived a teen aged girl who loved horses. She loved horses so much that she talked her parents into getting her one even though they lived in the suburbs and it would have to be boarded. Not to mention that the expense should have been beyond their budget. Although, not promised a horse, she bought a halter. Somehow the girl sensed that her family would somehow find the money to get a horse and pay for its board. Soon, they were looking at horses. The financial situation is now of some concern and still a mystery and the source of some guilt for the girl.At the time, the girl just wanted a horse; cost was not a problem for her. She did not yet drive, therefore the parents must have facilitated contact with horses and soon the girl fell in love with a pony named “Merrylegs.” One day, her parents took her to try out the pony. That particular pony was not purchased but soon a reliable stable horse aptly named “Socks” was added to the family.
He was a gelding, called Socks because he had four white forelegs. He had a black mane and his body was sort of black, although he seemed to fade to a brownish color in the sun. He had a swatch of white mixed with brown on one shoulder. He was about 14 hands tall. Just so you know, each hand is four inches and horses are measured from their withers. A horse must be 14 hands high to be considered a horse and not a pony. Therefore Socks was 14 hands tall. Ahem.
One day, the girl learned that she could ride quicker and put the horse away faster if she just rode bareback. It was just about as comfortable as with the saddle, it was cooler and did not require heaving the heavy saddle or girth tightening. She did not like lifting the heavy saddle and Socks did not like girth tightening. After that discovery, the girl almost always rode bareback. The horse had a thick mane to hang on to as well so there really was not much need for a saddle.
Having a horse meant feeding, cleaning the stall, grooming and of course riding. What is kind of a secret is that the horse (or large pony, truth be known,) was teaching the teenage girl all about life. He was steady, healthy and wise. He had common sense. Horse sense. He loved the stable and would head that way if given his way anytime he could. He balked at rickety bridges. Steered clear of loud noises and did not buck unless provoked.
Rain or shine, cool or hot, the girl loved to ride. Going horseback riding along was not a problem with this horse as he was wiser than the teen aged girl!
In time she got a job, started to date and the horse kind of took a back seat to all of those activities. At least there was a younger sister who took over and loved to ride. Socks was ultimately sold. By that time, the teenage girl had grown up and gotten married. It was years before the girl realized that the horse had taught her responsibility and self discipline. Maybe that is why her wise parents somehow found a way to afford such a luxury.

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Thank you

Thank you all so much for sharing your own experiences about your parents. I am so touched by each of your stories. And thank you for the wonderful comments about my Mom. Karen

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The Sandwich Generation

Many of my friends and I are at the age where we are experiencing the death of our parents. Obviously, some people have dealt with this life changing event earlier in their lives and although we all deal with loss differently, the age we are at the time of the loss is an important factor. Life looks different at different ages and that holds true for how we view this loss. I also have friends dealing with sick and aging parents. That adds a whole other layer of feelings. The amount of distance we are away from the parent, time of life, other commitments, prior relationships and many other things affect how we feel. There might be situations where one is closer geographically or emotionally. There may be other persons who stand between an adult child and a parent. The factor list is endless; relationships, interactions with caretakers, finances, contact (or not,) distance both physically and more. Dear ones are providing hands on care. Some look on from afar, fearful of every phone call. Some are right there, dealing with the issues on a minute by minute basis. Some are feeling guilty for not being there enough or feeling guilty for not having enough patience, time, effort. Regardless of the degree of contact, there are emotions to be dealt with.
My Mom was born in 1924. I learned a lot about her life over the years but there are still things I wish I had asked her and told her. I lost my Mom in 2004 and now my Dad is very disabled physically. His memory is not what it once was. So much for asking about past history. In a way, I was lucky. I had the time, opportunity and presence of mind to say some what I wanted to say and hear what I wanted to hear from each one of them. Even so, it was and still is a trying time. I really thought that once I had been through it, I would know just what to say to those who are now going through it. In fact, when my mother died, if someone would share with me how their loss of a parent affected them, it did seem to help me. But I am not so sure anymore. No words can express and no amount of sympathy can take away the particular pain that is involved. I believe that it is a very personal loss that is different for everyone. How can I profess to tell any one person that I know how they feel? In all honesty, I cannot. I can only say, that I have been though something similar and that I know that at some level it hurts, even if you think it won’t.
There are times when you cannot be thinking about that hurt as life for the living does get in the way. (Maybe thankfully.) Except out of the blue, something seemingly odd will trigger a thought that is so potent; you hardly know how to respond. Sometimes there may be tears, even laughter or simply ….nostalgia. I think often about my parents’ younger years. I mean the years when they were raising my sister and me. Mom and Dad were busy, enjoying their lives and I imagine they were just like me when I was at that stage in my life, living and not thinking about living. That is the time I like to reminisce and remember them. Years spent in sunny Florida, picnicking, boating, visiting relatives, working, cooking, home repairing and most of all, raising us.
Raising us was a lot bigger job than I realized at the time. Perhaps what I want to say to them most of all is that now I know how hard it must have been. Maybe the fear comes partly from not saying that enough. You know, giving them enough credit. After all, did we come with directions? They did the best they could with what they had to work with and knew to do. So, I will say it again, “Thanks Mom and Dad for all you did for us!!” When my mother lay dying, I worried about things I needed to say to her. I thanked her for being a great parent. Maybe I did not have to worry about saying it because what she said back was, “it was my pleasure.”

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Respect and acceptance

As you may recall, I teach in a community college. One day, my students were presenting a regularly assigned group project which consists of several questions they must answer about a topic they choose. How it is presented is at their discretion. One group chose for each member to read a particular answer. As I watched them, it occurred to me that the group was made up of students from several nationalities. One student, whose English is difficult to understand, read his part. Although the section was read in a monotone and most words could not be understood, my entire class sat in silence with complete respect for this student. I wanted to comment but knew I could not do so without spoiling the moment as my students accepted his participation without conscious regard to his difficulty with the language. This, I thought to myself, is what higher education is all about. I was so proud of the entire class, as acceptance and respect is what I wanted them to take away from our class.

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