Writing and Other Ridiculous Nonsense

I'm sitting in my office at work as I write this. My oldest daughter, Sydney, is sitting beside me, pecking away at her computer. We are a home school family and this year I am in charge of the Creative Writing class. Each week Sydney and I jump in the car, get away from the chaos of the house, and together we focus on the art of telling stories using the written word. Being a dad is a pretty good gig, if you want it to be.

I'm trying to come up with a topic for this post when I hear Sydney ask me, "Why are you staring at the ceiling?" Still gazing upwards, I say the first thing that comes to mind, "Well, I was looking down at my computer as I was thinking, but then gravity pulled all the good ideas to the front side of my brain, instead of the middle where my thinker is located." I nod my head downwards and motion to my forehead semi-dramatically before letting my head bob backwards to reclaim it's original position. I continue in a slow, airy voice, "I'm looking up so that my ideas will float back to a place where I can use them."

I hold my poker face as long as possible, which isn't long. I let my head lull to one side and make eye contact with her. She's grinning from ear-to-ear but her eyelids are all squinty-squinty like she's on to me. Nothing more is said on the subject. She doesn't bother asking again, probably because she trusts my propensity towards ridiculous nonsense.

Why Is Tom Annoying?

While we're on the subject of ridiculous nonsense, have you met my friend Tom? He's busting at the seams with it. Last week, for example, he decided to issue a challenge, targeted directly at me. He wants me to blog once a week for the next 6 months.

Tom is the sort of guy who knows that friendship comes with responsibilities. A good friend knows you deeply, but a true friend holds you accountable with what he knows. This is the sort of friend that I have in Tom. I try not to let it annoy me.

At the End of My Days

One thing Tom knows about me, for example, is that I love to write. Not only that but he knows I deeply regret when I don't take the time to do it. He knows that when I reach the end of my days on this earth I will have considered my time a success if I have used the art of telling stories with the written word appropriately. I want to write and share the details of my quest to finally became the man I should have been all along.

Would I like to do this to inspire others? Sure, there's a pleasant thought. But I'm afraid I'm a little more selfish than that. I've discovered a truth about myself and I want to leverage it.

What I've learned is this: The more I write about the man I'd like to be, the easier it is to be him.

When We Were Blitzed With Suck

This has been a rough year for my family. Our sweet Granny passed away, or as they're fond of saying in the South "went to be with the Lord," shortly after New Year's Day. Granny first belonged to Brenda but I adopted her quickly for my own. Pro-tip: You can never have too many grannies in your life. Especially ones like Doris.

Dying Isn't For The Faint Of Heart

Neither is watching someone do it. Besides wrestling with my own emotions and grief, I was faced with helping Brenda through hers. Thankfully she had her parents and sisters to lean on. The real difficulty was helping my children make sense of it all. I can still hear them sobbing when we told them Granny would be dying very soon. The five of us hugged each other and wailed in an eery sort of unison. Looking back I think their initial display of grief was more in response to seeing Mommy and Daddy cry than a firm understanding of what the future would hold.

The time leading up to Granny's passing is still a blur. I remember packing for the trip at break-neck speed. I remember facetiming with Granny while she was in the hospital. "I'm fine with it, Youngins!" she kept saying in between labored breaths. "I'm fine." Pause. "With it." Brenda and I held each other and I told her through my tears, "You gotta be fine with us not being fine with it, Granny!"

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to take the ones we love for granted? It's practically effortless, really. I can't count the number of times I've done it with people I love, like my own mother, for example.

Speaking of which, it's time to play a little catchup. The rest of this article is an open letter to my mother, Debi Ames, whom I don't want to take for granted.

Hi Mom!

When I asked you to come and support my family through this difficult time, you dropped everything and booked a flight immediately. We didn't have a plan. We didn't know if it was for 3 days or 3 weeks. All you knew was we needed you and that was enough.

Thank you.

You arrived and immediately jumped into action. Brenda, Sydney, Savannah, and I were able to attend Granny's funeral and I was able to spend time focused on just my girls, without being distracted by a 3 year old boy doing 3 year old things, because you took care of him for us.

Thank you.

You helped the kids and I make the 5 hour road trip back to Atlanta, while Brenda stayed with her family. Enough said.

Thank you.

Once we got back to the city you became a surrogate home-school mother for well over a week. You executed daily curriculums for the girls while helping potty train Elliot. You cooked and cleaned and did laundry and changed diapers and shopped for groceries and emptied the litterbox. You ferried the girls to home school academy for a day of science labs and humanities. You even made it to violin practice on time.

You took very, very good care of me and my family so that my wife could spend invaluable time with hers.

Thank you.

When Brenda returned, you continued to stay and help in a hundred little ways.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I'm sad for the loss of Granny for Brenda's sake, for my kid's sake, and for mine. But I'm thankful for the time we've had with you. When life got hard and we were blitzed with suck you came through like a hero. I never doubted you would, but that doesn't make it any less precious to behold.

Mom, I love you.

And thank you :-).