An exercise conveying nostalgia.

“Hello, Hello,” I say, impatiently, into the phone.  I hear cries and sobs.  I pull the phone away from my head to check the caller ID.  It’s my mom, my heart pounds and my breath quickens when I realize those heart-wrenching sounds are coming from her.  I scream into the phone, “Mom, I can’t understand you. Calm down.” My dread grows as her voice, punctuated with sobs, comes across the line. “You’re Dad…the doctor just called.”  I’m frantic as she speaks.  I thought she was going to tell me my dad was dead.  Her crying is making it difficult to understand her words.

“Mom, what, I can’t understand you,” my voice, sharp to snap her out of it. “What’s wrong?”  I glance at my husband, he looks at me, the wrinkles around his eyes spider web as he narrows his eyes, his raises his eyebrows, silently asking me what’s going on. I shrug my shoulders.

Finally, Mom’s voice breaks through, “Your dad has cancer.” I can’t answer her. I can’t offer her any comfort.  My voice locks.  I try to speak but there is no sound.  Tears slowly inch down my face. It seems like an eternity before I answer.  Her cries create a background noise of chaos in my mind. “Mom, what did the doctor say? Did he give him a timeframe? Did he say what stage cancer?” My questions shoot like bullets from a six-shooter in a stand-off.  My mom didn’t have the answer to my questions and she couldn’t talk.  Reluctantly, I disconnected the phone.

Duty dictates. I tell my husband and call my children. Automatically I continue my work.  My mind searches for the earliest memory I have of my Dad and I find nothing.  He was there when I was a child.  I know for I remember discipline. I remember family dinner at the supper table.  I remember long rides to church.  Mostly though, I don’t remember.

The floorboard creaks.  I call out to my mom, “I’m awake.” I don’t want her to turn on the light before my eyes adjust to waking up.  She says, “Ok, time to get up and get ready for school.”  I lay in the bed a few seconds, listening to the car start.  My bedroom is right beside the carport so I hear the car as it backs out, gravel crunches beneath the tires and then the sound is gone.  I know my dad has left for work.  It’s time to get out of bed.  Mom usually fixes oatmeal and toast for breakfast.  Breakfast varies little.  During cold weather, we have oatmeal, when summer comes, we have Corn Flakes. Once in a while, like today, we have cinnamon toast.  Mom’s cinnamon toast is good.  She places white bread in the pop-up toaster.  Once the toast pops out, Mom butters the toast and sprinkles a mix of cinnamon and sugar on the butter.  She does it fast so the mix kind of melts on the hot toast.  She always fixes us two pieces.

After school, my mom makes us sit at the kitchen table to do our homework while she cooks supper.  If we finish our homework, we can go out and play.  Mom doesn’t serve supper until Dad gets home.  Once Dad is home, playtime is over and we all sit down at the table to eat.  We eat as soon as Dad gets home.  He comes into the house, goes to the kitchen sink and washes his hands and arms up to his elbows. He always washes all the way up to his elbows to clean off errant grease from the semis he worked on during the day.

After washing, he sits at the kitchen table.  We all have our own place at the table.  Dad sits at the end, my sister sits at the other end and Mom and I sit on the sides. I don’t like it when Dad fixes my plate.  He puts on too much food and we are not allowed to waste food.  “Eat everything on your plate before you get up,” he says.  I always wondered if I finished early could I get up.  I never did though because there was too much food on my plate.  I had to wait until he left the table so my Mom could rake off the extra.  It was our secret.

After supper, Dad watches television in the living room while my sister and I get our baths.  Once bath time is over, we both go into the living room and tell Dad good night.  I don’t remember kissing him good-night, just saying the words.  His eyes never leave the television as he says it back to us.

The weekends are different.  Dad doesn’t go to his job and we don’t have school.  We want to sleep late but that’s never allowed.  “Rise and shine,” he says as he turns on the overhead light. I burrow into the covers, hiding from the light.  He starts singing, “Time to get up in the morning…” as he yanks the covers off the bed.  Reluctantly, I tell him, “Ok, I’m coming.”

Saturday mornings vary according to the season.  Winter months we work on the wood pile and in the summer months we work in the garden.  I’m not a fan of either.  Today is wood chopping day.  Dad warmed the truck up and we headed to Hobbs Hill.  That’s the hill his childhood home is on and where we always chop wood.  Dad chops wood, halfway through the morning, he sheds his jacket.  We can see his big muscles.  Sometimes he flexes his muscles for us. Neither my sister nor I have muscles.  Dad says it’s because he chops the wood and we only stack it.

After wood chopping, we go back home and unload the wood.  Afterwards, we have free time.  Dad works around the house and my sister and I play, ride bikes, or read until dark.  Supper is always late on Saturdays but it is the same as supper the rest of the week.  I hope Mom fixes my plate.

Maybe I do remember.

13 thoughts on “Remembering

  1. This short story hit home to me because my mother in-law passed of cancer in 2014. I remember the call I received clear as day. The only difference between this call and our call was there was no telling anyone else. Everything happened so quickly. She was notified, got admitted into the hospital, transferred to Houston, then came back to the hospital here, all within 4 months. She passed not long after that. There is a lot of vivid description in the daily memories remembered. I do not have those anymore. I guess through time those small things have faded. I feel like this is a good story, due to being able to visualize each description that is spoken about the memories. I wish I could remember like this.

  2. i like the story because it give you what a family is acutely suppose to be like and not everyone go off and do something different. I think more people should sit at a table as a family and not eat in front of the TV or in rooms but since technology is getting more advance i believe this is going to be something only older folks do and younger generation are not going know the feeling of a family dinner. i know as a kid we really didn’t sit around a table as a family only on holidays and now it like my family does other things for holidays and not come together anymore your story give enough details to were i can relate and not a lot of none sense that doesn’t need to be in it

  3. This story was very easy to follow. I assume that many would have the same reaction after finding out that a loved one has cancer. Words disappear and silence breaks in. Words or actions can never take away that fact of the cancer. It seems that the story goes back in time to when the daughter is a kid telling the few memories that she can remember from being a child. The situation and the memories were very well worded and easy to follow. It stated the situation well as if it were actually happening. this is a very good story.

  4. The story starts off so strong that it grabs your attention immediately. I know it must have been hard for her mother finding out her husband had cancer. I like how the story goes from her trying to remember into her actually remembering. I think that’s how it actually happens, you try to remember things but you cant it just happens

  5. I enjoyed this story and it hit home for me because we had a scare not too long ago that dealt with my mom having cancer. She had a ton of tests done and they finally found out it wasn’t cancer, but it eventually could become that way. In your story, I loved how as soon as you found out your dad had cancer that you went straight to all the memories you had with him. Memories are important because it is nice to remember all the good times that you have had with people. They really good to sit and think about when something bad happens, because for a moment in time you are able to just sit there and think about nothing but happy times. It gets you out of the sadness mood, if only for a little while. It also talked about how a family is suppose to live, and I loved that.

  6. I enjoy the story because my grandmother had cancer. My mom broke down when she heard the news. She went through chemotherapy for a whole summer. My mom was real sad about the situation even though she denied it, yet she still cooked on time and did what she had to do everyday for us a family. I also like how you started off with a good hook. It got my attention immediately.

  7. Opening is very catching, you can picture this because it is so common and relatable, even with me. I like how the narrator goes through a series of events to try and recapture everything. Sometimes memories come on naturally, as they can be hard to force, especially under stressful circumstances.

  8. The description of the author’s mother’s raw emotion used in the introduction to this story, was very effective in grabbing my attention and drawing me into the story. The author does an excellent job of illustrating that, when faced with immortality, memories that have the biggest impact in our lives do not have to be grand, elaborate gestures. The mundane, everyday routine that we take for granted can become our most treasured memories. As a young girl, I would ride on my dad’s lap, as he mowed our lawn. He and I did lots of memorable things when I was growing up, but the memory of riding with him on that lawnmower will be a cherished memory that will hold strong long after that old lawn mower is a rusty pile of metal.

    The story could have benefited from a deeper insight into the author’s emotion.

  9. The beginning of the story does a good job of making you feel the emotions of the main character. Describing the sounds she heard from her mom making it clear how heart wrenching the situation was forced you to feel that anxiety she felt as she was trying to find out what was going on. Once she hears the news she immediately starts trying to get answers, not taking a moment to even process what she just heard. This is a great illustration of human nature and the drive one feels to do everything in their power to prevent the death of a loved one and refusing to consider it as a possibility. This makes the story feel very real giving you a strong desire to keep reading.

    I liked the point of the story, her remembering the past and the good times spent with her father. I really didn’t get a great sense of her emotions once she started remembering though. The stories of her childhood were told perfectly but I didn’t feel like they were related to the current situation she was dealing with and really didn’t know how she was felt about her dad at the end of the story. Overall it was a great story with realistic details that made it very interesting but a little more details about the characters emotions toward the end would have kept me a bit more interested.
    Great job on this one though.

  10. Wow!! I absolutely love this story. My dad passed away with cancer about 12 years ago and I can remember wanting to hold on to everything I could remember about him. This was a great story. Thanks !!

  11. Certain traumatic events jog our memories back to childhood. It is amazing how certain events or routines are associated with events that remind us of yesterday. They are not recalled right away but eventually details emerge. Well written. It is easy for the reader to relate to memories when the mind is free flowing and not full of responsibilities or distractions. We allow ourselves to stop the present from time to time and remember moments that will not occur again in our lifetimes. This is what shapes are souls and who we are present day. Reminiscence is a good thing.

  12. This story was very easy to follow because you can see her in your head just in shock about her dad and instantly going back to being a kid and what it was like with her father around. All the little corks about having to eat all the food on their places and how he would wake them on saturday even though they wanted to sleep in. Also how he would chop the wood and they would stack it. She was emerged in reminiscing and maybe even sad some that soon that might be over. She won’t ever get that time back and soon she might not ever get to have anymore moments with her father. She’ll only have her memories.

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