Writing About Memories

I started reading through the latest posts on the WARA blog and came across Penny's "A Few of Their Favorite Things." I started to respond, but as I nearly finished it, I changed my mind. I wasn't sure what to write my own blog about until that moment of epiphany. I wanted to use what I was writing (a combination of a fictional character and modified memories of my own) for my blog. So here it is. Thanks, Penny, for nudging me toward writing this fictional memory.

Annie had watched her father begin slipping away from everyone and reality for the last few months. It was breaking her heart. He'd been the light of her life for so long. She'd looked up to him all through the years. Okay, they'd had their share of disagreements. But even during those times she'd loved him and he'd loved her even more.

She stood in her kitchen, fighting away tears, and thinking back over time. Her father had done so much for her, spent so much time with her. From the moment she could walk, she'd followed after him and he'd never minded. She'd learned to read sitting in his lap, and learned to give free rein to her imagination as well. Just as her father had done. She remembered him sitting on the side of her bed more nights than she could count reading her stories, sometimes just making up stories. Those had been her favorites. Even now they were the stories she remembered most.

Her mother had been gone from their lives a long time. Actually, she had no memories of her own about the woman who'd given birth to her. Her memories of the special woman were really her father's memories. She knew her mother had the most beautiful hair, soft hair, because he'd told her how he'd enjoyed sitting with her sometimes and brushing it, letting his fingers run through it. Her eyes were an amazing shade of blue...or green...or something. He wasn't really sure because he was color blind, but he loved her eyes and the way they'd danced with life. He'd loved her so much and he'd missed her every day since she'd breathed her last breath.

Blinking away tears, she knew it wouldn't be long before her father, too, breathed his last breath. She wanted--needed--to do something extra special for him at least one final time. What? What could she do that would show how much she loved him?

Her gaze shifted to her collection of receipe books on the end of the nearby counter. A battered and stained cardboard box acted as a book end. The treasured box had belonged to her mother. Her brothers hadn't cared about inheriting it. Her sister hadn't been impressed by it, either. But Annie had wanted it with her whole heart.

She moved toward it, drawn to the box, knowing it held the perfect gift for her father. Her mother hadn't even known how to boil water when she'd married Annie's dad. He hadn't care if she could cook or not. Eventually she'd learned to cook, somewhat.

She thought about the many times they'd made a meal together and he'd shared the gift of another memory of her mother. She remembered how he'd smile, sometimes laugh, when he told her about one of her mother's cooking disasters. He'd told her that he'd eaten every one of them without complaint. He would have bitten off his tongue before telling her how bad they were. He would never have done that to her, knowing how hard she'd tried to please him. She was what pleased him, everything else didn't matter.

Heart pinching and sniffing back tears, Annie reached a shaky hand into that magical box of memories. She fingered through the many tattered index cards on which her mother had handwritten in perfect penmanship receipes she'd copied from magazines and newspepers. She searched until she found the receipe that would mean the most to him: a cherry pie receipe.

When she found it, a smile slid into place and she clutched it to her chest for a moment. Somehow her mother had gotten the impression cherry pies were her father's favorite. She'd made him dozens of them during their short time together. But it wasn't until last year at a family meal with her all of the extended family when he'd chosen a piece of peach pie instead of cherry that he'd admitted the truth. He'd never really liked cherry pie. He'd never had the heart to tell her mother differently.

Yes, this was the receipe she wanted. He would eat the pie because she'd made it for him and together they would smile and laugh once more about her mother. And this would be one of her final memories with her father that she would take out every now and then to think about in the years ahead.


Penny Rader said...

Oh, Starla. That's just beautiful. My heart is pinching right along with Annie's. Well done. And what wonderful tribute to your dad.

Starla Kaye said...

Penny, thanks. He was, as you and I discussed, my personal hero. He wasn't wealthy, he didn't have a big fancy job, he didn't do anything outstandingly brave in his life. But Jack L Tolliver was my hero.

Reese Mobley said...

Since my dad has only been gone for six months this really hit home hard. I often think of my dad and miss him dearly. Thanks, Starla.

Starla Kaye said...

Reese, my dad has been gone almost 7 years now and I still think of him often. I occasionally still catch myself wanting to call and tell him something. Same with my mom, who has been gone longer. Guess that shows how much they meant to me.

Joan Vincent said...

Starla, how touching--how beautifully written.
Thanks for sharing this.

Becky A said...

If this is based on your own memories, you're a lucky woman. I absolutely love the cherry pie part. Now that's love!
Great job, thanks for sharing.

Pat Davids said...

Wow, what a beautiful piece. Your father would be so proud of your talent with words and emotions.

Elaine Morrison said...

Oh Starla. That was so touching. I was raised from birth by my grandpa.From the time I could walk I was his constant shadow. He retired and we did everything together. This reminded me of him completely. Thank you.

Nina Sipes said...

Holy Cow! No wonder I don't write the way you do. Very good job.