That Family Member . . . Prompt # 292

Let’s do some relaxation exercises before writing.

Settle into your chair.  Feet flat on floor. Hands relaxed.

Rotate shoulders in a circle. Reverse direction.

Stretch arms out in front. Arms overhead. Arms to the side.

Big deep breath in. Hold. Let go.

Feel your feet connected to the floor. That connection goes down into the earth, way down, deep down, to the center of the earth. Firmly planted, deeply rooted.

Take a nice deep breath in and bring your shoulders up to your ears. And then let them down with a loud hrumph sound. Another deep breath in, shoulders up and down with the outward breath.

Completely supported in your chair. Feeling the connection to the earth. Feeling connected to the center . . .  the core of the earth. Your connection goes deep.

We’re going to do a bit of exploration here. . . scanning memories.

family photosSitting comfortably in your chair, scan your relatives for the person who affected you the least.

Now, a relative who affected you the most.

What are some of the emotions that came up for you?

Which relative affected you in a way that surprised you?

Prompt:  Write about that relative and a time that holds deep emotions for you.

 How to write without adding trauma is a Write Spot Blog post from July 2013. You might want to read this before writing about difficult experiences.


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  1. Ke11y

    Dad, when at home, was a human equivalent of the Mary Celeste. Everything about his life was perfectly in its place, except his mind. He often drifted aimlessly through the house without direction, occasionally finding himself in the kitchen, and prompting mum to ask: “Darling, are you lost?” He would look around, momentarily, then respond: “Aye, lass, I think I be.” He would turn astern and leave the way he entered. Dad was never allowed to enter the kitchen. It was law. Vice versa, mum was banned from ever setting foot on Paladin, a fishing trawler, and for most of his life, Dad’s other home.

    Dad began commercial fishing when he was nineteen years old, and two years later purchased a trawler. There are many stories I can tell, not just of dad’s exploits, but of those men who worked with him and ultimately became part of my family. But today I want to talk about dad, the gardener. He loved to grow vegetables and fruit. He said: “…lad, you can only enjoy a garden as long as you tend it.” I was ten years old when I started to learn about gardening. He gave me the responsibility every time he left for open water. Throughout my life a garden, regardless of where, or what climate, has been my source of immense pleasure. Now, with dad gone, that desire has intensified.

    Dad was a great gardener. He was also one of the clumsiest men I ever met. If ever there was a pot of half used anything lying around the greenhouse, dad’s boot never missed it. The resulting profanities begged forgiveness midst the tomato plants, for there, and only there, was he immersed in his life’s sanctity.

    Let me talk about that right boot because to do so will give you an insight into the kind of man he was. These particular boots would have long ago been tossed out by mum, but dad had fastened their flapping tongues of the sole to the uppers with fishermen’s twine; the same sort used to repair lobster pots. It kept those boots intact for all my teenage years. Being with dad was as close to being whole as a young man could be. On the days he arrived home from the sea, mum’s face was a picture of devotion, and the smells that emanated from the kitchen were like no other, using all the fresh produce of dad’s garden.

    Once a month dad would try to be home on a Sunday, and I would wake at dawn to a yellow light flickering on my bedroom wall. I’d leap up, look out the window and see a whole heap of garden debris burning. One-time dad blackened the entire village before daylight. He was exciting, immensely strong, a mystery to himself, but not to me because he was everything of a champion, sometimes a renegade, a destroyer of doubt, and that was who he was, my dad. Never a mystery to mum in sixty-two years of marriage.

    Living in a tightly knit community has its drawback, teenage romance being one of them, but great in so many ways. It allowed people to share, to care, and to support. I know it happened in cities, but not in the same way, not at all. Dad kept potatoes; Willy kept bits of fishing boats: propeller shafts, rusting anchors, bronze couplings, bulwark supports, boilers, cylinders, crank rods, pistons, and flywheels. These things meant a living to him; to others, such relics were nothing but the town’s eyesore. I mention Willy because he was often in our garden, picking rhubarb or carrots. Dad, of course, was always in Willy’s scrap metal yard.

    My home was everyone’s home on the island. It was the place friends came to taste mum’s scones, topped with homemade clotted cream and blackberry jam, and to swallow down a large mug of tea. Such summers came often.

    Today, standing in the garden, I looked down to see my gardening boots in need of repair. I won’t repair them, of course.

    1. mcullen Post author

      Absolutely delightful to read, Kelly. Your word choices are refreshing: human equivalent of the Mary Celeste, turn astern, if ever there was a pot of half used anything lying around, resulting profanities begged forgiveness, being with dad was as close to being whole and so many more interesting intetrwining of words in that special knack you have, Kelly. Please do keep writing!

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