“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” ~ Norman Cousins
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” ~ Robert Frost
As I sit down to write this blog post, I’m very emotional because it’s about my father. Even though he’s been gone for twelve years, I’m still learning from the lessons he taught me. His influence runs so deep that it is often difficult for me to put my thoughts and emotions into words. But, about a month or two ago, I got the idea to write a book with my sister, Celeste, about the conversations we had with Dad. The book started out to be about what we learned from the many discussions we had with him about movies.
When I proposed the idea to Celeste we decided we wanted to concentrate on the way dad used questions as a teaching tool and how parents and teachers can also do the same thing.
The thing is, when a writing project idea comes to me, it often morphs into exploring ideas and relationships that I had not envisioned when I started the project. This one is no different. As Celeste and I have talked about all that we’ve learned from Dad, it is clear to me that we have more things to say about him than just the discussions we had about movies. It seems to me that we need to write a kind of memoir about him rather than just a cheesy little book about using movies to have those difficult discussions with children.
I haven’t read many memoirs, which may or may not be an advantage. All kinds of ways I could approach the writing have been swirling around in my head. How do we structure the book? How do we even begin it? Then I remembered something Brené Brown said. The best way to connect with people is to tell stories. That is what Celeste and I have decided to do and this morning a story about dad came to me that I want to share.
When I was ten, we moved from the comfortable cocoon of church friends and close family to an extremely small town where I didn’t know anyone. There were a few church families living in this small community, and, as I remember it, Dad was to be the pastor of the small congregation. The town was on the Washington side of the Colombia River Gorge across from The Dalles, Oregon. We moved from our lovely home that mom and dad had had built in Gresham, Oregon to a 55 ft long, 10 ft wide trailer, with my brother and I sharing a tiny bedroom. My new baby sister, not Celeste she came later, slept in her bassinet in Mom and Dad’s room.
I was an extremely sensitive and shy girl. The move was difficult for me. I don’t remember having many friends the three years we lived there.
Dad often had assignments to preach at congregations up and down the Gorge. When he traveled, he would take either my brother or me, or sometimes both of us with him. Those were precious times, because though we lived 70 miles from Portland, dad still worked at Freightliner building big rigs. He spent the weekdays away from home. Even so, he found time to coach one of my brother’s teams and he came to many of our school events.
When I was in seventh grade, the principal of our school decided to put on a play. The population of the school was small, and I don’t remember if all students in the seventh and eighth grades were encouraged to audition, or if it was just a seventh grade project. In any case, I think I surprised my parents when I auditioned for the play. I didn’t get a part, but I helped backstage. One of my duties was to prompt students on their lines. I was so enthusiastic that I memorized the entire script. I didn’t think anyone knew this, or even cared, but I wanted to be prepared in case something happened and an actor couldn’t perform.
At the end of the school year, the principal gave me a special award for all my hard work and he told the assembly that I had learned all the lines to the play and done other extra work backstage. I still have the drama pin Mr. Hemple gave me, but the best award I got that night was Dad telling me how proud he was of me. I’m sure he had told me that before, but for some reason, that night his words meant so much more to me.
Over the years dad did that a lot, told me he was proud of me. I found out not too many years ago, that Dad had told Mom, “Lucinda is a sensitive soul.” Or words to that effect. I think he told me he was proud of me because he knew I was filled with self-doubt and needed to hear that he understood who I was.
That was one of the things that made Dad a genus. He observed people. He had empathy for them and could often see talents in them they didn’t even know they possessed. I believe Dad saw my love for storytelling in all it’s forms and he began watching movies and TV shows with me not only to help me learn, but to connect with me in a non-threatening but emotional way. Because you see, my father was an extremely private person himself. We could talk about the events and characters in the movie or TV show and in an oblique way, talk about how we felt and what we thought about things happening in our personal lives as well.
So, even though this memoir that Celeste and I are going to write together will contain stories about the movie discussions we had with Dad, it will contain other stories as well. Stories of how little things Dad did and said to us had a great impact upon the way we live our lives now.
I miss you, Dad. I’m grateful to have had you as my father, and for all the things I learned from you.
Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I appreciate it very much. Have a restful weekend.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.