I am delighted to be a guest of author Jill Weatherholt on her lovely site today. Each Friday she posts the responses of guest writers to her Would You Rather questions. For instance, Would you rather live in an amusement park or a zoo? Come join in the fun by clicking the Would You Rather link above. You'll see why Jill is Love Inspired. ♥
This week Author Suzanne Burke uses a photo of a marionette for her "Fiction in A Flash Challenge." If you are interested, please go to her website for details and suggestions.
My contribution is a Tanka poem, a 31 syllable poem known for its five lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. The photo prompt is the figure in the bottom left corner.
This Sunday is Father's Day, and I've decided to share a personal story about my dad. Through him, I learned much about life. I suspect you can say the same. To all fathers, thank you and Happy Father's Day.
It was just after 6:30 A.M. when the school bus arrived. My sisters and brothers had already climbed aboard when mom asked me to stay behind. She didn’t feel right and thought she might be going into labor.
Dad was in the fields working, and she did not have a way to reach him, so she asked me to drive her to the doctor’s office. Dad had taught me to drive a stick shift dune buggy a year earlier when I was just twelve years old. He believed I was mature enough and said I should know how to drive – just in case. This was one of those just in case moments.
I drove the old Pontiac station wagon twelve miles into town to the doctor’s office. But mom no sooner went into his office, than she came out and said we had to go to the hospital. The urgency in her voice scared me, and I knew something was terribly wrong.
When we got back into the car, mom started crying. I had never seen her breakdown as she did. I asked what was wrong and she haltingly explained that the baby might not be alive.
When we arrived at the hospital, a medical team took mom behind closed doors. I stood there a while not knowing what to do, and then realized that there was nothing more for me. I was a child in an adult world.
I drove home alone, past fields of cotton and sugar beets, past the cattle feedlots, past the lake where we liked to swim. I barely noticed my surroundings or the speed at which I drove. Mom’s tears had left me with my own.
Dad rushed to the side of the car when I drove into the yard. “Is mom okay?” he asked. I was crying so hard, I couldn’t speak. Finally, dad told me firmly to calm down and answer him, “Is mom okay?”
“She’s okay,” I muttered, “but I don’t think the baby is.”
Dad’s face tightened at those words, and he told me that I had done a good job. He asked me to go in the house and take care of my six younger siblings, then he left for town.
I did not tell dad the real reason for my tears, not then. I waited to later, to when dad had returned with the awful news and was sitting alone in the darkness. I asked if I could tell him a terrible secret, and he said yes. I told him about my scary dreams, the ones in which the baby was born dead. I cried as I spoke and told him I was afraid my nightmares had caused this tragedy.
Dad listened intently to what I was saying and then told me that he, too, had the same dreams.
When he shared this with me, I was relieved for then I no longer felt that it was my fault. A huge weight lifted and with it my tears.
Some fifty years later, I told a friend about this incident, about how dad and I had the same dreams. He smiled at the end of the story and said, “As only a loving father could say to his young daughter.”
At first, I did not understand what he meant and asked him about it. He simply repeated his words, “As only a loving father could say to his young daughter.” And then I knew. Dad told me that he had the same dreams, because he did not want me to carry the burden.
My dad was not one to say, “I love you,” in fact, I only remember him saying those words once to me. But over time, I came to realize that his life was his I love you. And he gave that life to those he loved every day.
Author Suzanne Burke provides another Fiction in A Flash Challenge for anyone feeling the creative urge. Her photograph this week is the historic ROUTE 66 road sign. I've decided to respond with a historical glimpse back to its origins.
John Steinbeck famously called Route 66 "the mother road, the road of flight" because thousands upon thousands fled the Dust Bowl for the hope of something better. His Grapes of Wrath captured the dire poverty that so many experienced and helped later generations understand why there was an epic journey West.
Though the road is now decommissioned, it basically follows Interstate 40 from Santa Monica to Oklahoma City where it changes to Interstate 44 through Missouri and Interstate 55 to Chicago. For those of us who have traveled this road, there's a reverence for its history. My tanka poem (5-7-5-7-7 syllables) tries to capture that sentiment.
Over these long months of watching network stations relay the dire news of rising numbers of COVID deaths, our global financial collapse, police brutality and riots across the United States, as well as the deepening political divides, my husband and I have given up on the news. It isn't that the "facts" aren't facts, although we question everything, rather, it is that HOPE beckons us elsewhere.
At daybreak, I take a long meditative walk. Only birds and rabbits accompanying me. The glory of sunrise fills my heart with extraordinary peace and prayer follows naturally. I deeply believe we will get through this, whatever "this" might be.
In the evening, my husband and I often watch inspirational films. Three of these films I share with you today. You may have seen them, but if not, I've attached Trailers for you to consider. I'm not going to explain the stories, that wouldn't be fair to you, but I will make brief comments about each.
The first movie is The Shack. This is a beautiful, spiritual film. If you've ever struggled with forgiving someone, I strongly recommend it. I found its message on forgiveness to be extraordinary.
The second is NOBLE. This movie is based on a true story, and what a story it is. Against all odds, a woman makes miracles happen. It affirms that each of us can do so much.
The third movie is EDIE. A very clear message from this movie is that it is never too late to pursue your dreams.
Author Suzanne Burke invites writers to respond to Week 3 of her "Fiction in a Flash Challenge" by creating a story or a poem inspired by the image. If you'd like to join in this endeavor, just click on the link above, and you'll be led to Suzanne's website where she offers suggestions and instructions.
This week's photo takes me to an imaginary island somewhere in the Atlantic, far from COVID-19 and riots in the streets. Walking its pristine beach, I am surprised by what I find and share it today. I hope my discovery brings a smile and maybe a fresh breeze. Have a great day!
A Haitian Proverb
“Bekka, come on. This will be fun.” His irritation mounting.
“Mom’s not gonna like it.” She looks away and shifts her legs nervously.
“Come on, she won’t even know.”
“Remember last time? Not pretty…”
“Good grief! Just crawl across the tree trunk and we’ll jump together.”
“What if we miss?”
“How could we? We’d be right above the swing. We can’t miss.”
“Yeah, well, if something could go wrong, it will.”
“You always do this. You know that right? A l w a y s. Forget about it! I’m going without you.”
“Alright!! I’m coming. No tricks though.” She struggles to pull herself up the tree trunk.
“I’m gonna count to three. Are you ready? Here goes...one, two, three. JUMP!”
“Bekka, what happened? Why didn’t you jump?”
“Just got scared is all.”
“Come on! What could go wrong?”
“I dunno…but it feels so high up here.”
“Then jump and stop complaining.”
“Okay. One, two, three…”
“Eddy, Eddy, where are you?”
“Well, no thanks to you, I’m in the ocean. I bounced off when you hit.”
“Oh no, here comes mom.”
“Geez!! Y’know what she’s going to say! The crab that walks too far falls into the pot.”
“Have you ever wondered what that means?”
“Yeah, but I suspect it’s code for stay away from humans - or at least humans with pots.”
Recently, I came across a speech of Senator John F. Kennedy which struck me for its relevance today. I share it with you because I think his message is one we all need to hear. This speech was delivered when JFK accepted the nomination for the presidency on July 15, 1960. Sixty years have passed and I wonder, has anything really changed?
"I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high, to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future. As Winston Churchill said on taking office: if we open a quarrel between the present and the past, we shall be in danger of losing the future.
Today our concern must be with that future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do.
Abroad, the balance of power is shifting. There are new and more terrible weapons… The world has been close to war before, but now man, who has survived all previous threats to his existence, has taken into his mortal hands the power to exterminate the entire species some seven times over.
For I stand tonight facing west on what was once the last frontier. From the lands that stretch three thousand miles behind me, the pioneers of old gave up their safety, their comfort and sometimes their lives to build a new world here in the West. They were not the captives of their own doubts, the prisoners of their own price tags. Their motto was not "every man for himself," but "all for the common cause." They were determined to make that new world strong and free, to overcome its hazards and its hardships, to conquer the enemies that threatened from without and within.
Today some would say that those struggles are all over, that all the horizons have been explored, that all the battles have been won, that there is no longer an American frontier. But I trust that no one in this vast assemblage will agree with those sentiments. For the problems are not all solved, and the battles are not all won, and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier, a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats."
Judy Collins has a wonderful way of lifting spirits, and so I share this song today.
Author Suzanne Burke invites writers to respond to her "Fiction in a Flash Challenge" by creating a story or a poem inspired by the image. If you'd like to join in this endeavor, just click on the link above, and you'll be led to Suzanne's website where she offers suggestions and instructions.
This week's picture holds sadness for me. It's as if life has been stilled. Though the scene is beautiful, there is also a chilly silence. I've chosen to try to capture that feeling of isolation in a simple three-stanza haiku poem.
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