I started writing a piece about chairs after my nephew sent me a photo of my daughter Carlene as a baby sitting propped up in her Grandpa Bouwman’s recliner and I thought about how I never imagined I’d be that old that I’d buy a recliner, but I bought one last year to replace the chair that was originally a birthday gift for my now ex-husband who, when he moved in with his now wife, said he didn’t want it anymore and so I took it back and kept it for a few years until it was nearly threadbare and it was hauled away when they delivered my new recliner which is so comfortable that Jim bought one last week, although mine, with its one up and one down button, isn’t nearly as fancy as his electronic wonder that has more buttons than a TV remote and a USB port, and as I wrote about this, I wondered what someone like Archie Bunker would think of such a chair, which I saw years ago in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and then I remembered that Martin Crane’s chair in Frasier was a recliner which reminded me that my dad’s last chair was a recliner and that he always managed to get popcorn stuck in the cushions, which both frustrated and amazed my mother, and I laughed at the memory and wanted to share it with Dad, but then I remembered that Dad is gone and so I didn’t feel like writing about chairs anymore.
I started writing a piece about the word “sorry” and how there are times when I say “sorry” when I’m not, times when I should confront, defend, or simply say nothing at all, and the writing was start and stop, start and stop so I went to the kitchen for a box of Chuckles Minis I had half hidden in a cupboard and when I returned to my desk, without thinking, I created a pile of the licorice ones because I don’t like licorice, but Dad did, and he also liked Almond Joy, Mounds and Bit ‘O Honey and I thought about how I gave those to him when I went through my Halloween candy haul, then I started to cry and stopped writing about “sorry.”
I started writing about the time my brother and I went fishing for bullheads when we were 11 and 9 and how we used cane poles that were a foot taller than either of us and my brother got a hook lodged in his knee and I cried all the way home because I thought he would die and he told me to shut up because I was embarrassing him, and when we got home, Mom called Dad at work and Dad went to the hardware store to buy a side cutter since a fish hook should only go one way in and out, and when he cut the barbs to slip the hook the rest of the way through my brother’s knee I thought I would faint, but then I couldn’t remember what happened next – did my brother need stitches? – and I reached for the phone to call Dad and, well…
One of these days I’ll balance my writing life and grief, finish a piece and feel good about it, just not today.