Another kind of Christmas story… from the mouths of children
We thought of you with love today,
But that is nothing new.
We thought about you yesterday.
And days before that too.
We think of you in silence.
We often speak your name.
Now all we have is memories.
And your picture in a frame.
Your memory is our keepsake.
With which we’ll never part.
God has you in his keeping.
We have you in our heart.
The picture is at his ninetieth anniversary, together with Raluca, the granddaughter who looks the most like him.
Today my father was buried – and only God knows in how many years I’d be able to get to the cemetery, to get closer to him. Being far away, with only the thoughts flying towards there, doesn’t count… But I couldn’t do otherwise, no matter how much I would have wished it. Nevertheless, I can have him close in my thoughts, I can talk to him in my writings, any time… because this is what I can do best. And this is what I have been left.
As far as I know about the Jewish customs – which isn’t much – now it’s shiva, the mourning, when people sit on the floor and speak about the beloved departed. I am speaking about him and about his loss here, without any ceremony.
Dying happens because it is one of the laws of life; nobody lives ethernally. And because each person in this world, me included, have our own fate, written even before we got born. There are things we can write ourselves, between the lines of the fate, giving to it our own choices’ colours. But the basic things are already chosen for us and we can’t undo those, no matter how much we’d wish.
I’ve grieved many times in my life, for various people I cared for. I’ve been overwhelmed with regrets, with “what ifs” to which there was no real answer. Neither now my questions would have any answer. It was just meant to be like this, with me away, unable to be there in person, with me remembering a last phone conversation, a last visit… Of course I could have phoned when I wanted to and I gave up, thinking that he might have been at dialysis that day and he might have been tired.
Unlike others, I really do believe that everything happens for a reason. I don’t think these are mere platitudes, but simple truths. Indeed, some things in life cannot be fixed; they can only be carried. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t make us stronger. They do, in time. And that, no matter that we can’t see why these things have happened, there is a reason, unknown to us. So is the call of the death, reaping one or another of our family members and teaching us to mourn. It simply was meant to happen, and God chooses the day, not us.
Grieving, healing and transformation can occur – and they will, in their own time. It is a different timeline for each person, even for siblings who grieve for the same father. Everybody figures out, in time, how to live, how to carry what we have lost, how to weave a new mosaic for ourselves and keep the essence of the lost one in it. So will I. Because my father will live forever in our thoughts, in our memories. Not only mine and my sister’s; he had grandchildren, grand-grandchildren old enough to remember him playing with them, nieces and nephews, other people whose lives he had touched.
Someone was telling me today, together with her condolences, that my father was always spoiling her with crème caramel and cherry pie.
Another, that they had a discussion with him a few months ago, there…
At my turn, I remember the first time we met, when I was fifteen; the first time I visited him in his home, which seemed to me a palace of treasures with so much music there. Now that I am living in this place which had been his, for 11 years already, it is a different place of treasures… but his memory is stronger, in every wall. And I am glad it is. My father lives forever in our memories, in our hearts.
If we could bring you back again,
For one more hour or day,
We’d express all our unspoken love;
We’d have countless things to say.
If we could bring you back again,
We’d say we treasured you,
And that your presence in our lives
Meant more than we ever knew.
If we could bring you back again,
To tell you what we should,
You’d know how much we miss you now,
And if we could, we would.
My father died on the fourth day of Hannukah, 3 weeks before turning 93. May God rest him in peace!
93 years of life means a full, accomplished life. Three daughters from two wives, four grandsons and two granddaughters from the first two (as I can’t have children), and he lived long enough to play with three grand-grandsons and two grand-granddaughters. A new grand-grandson will be born soon, and I am curious if they will give him my father’s name too.
I feel close enough to him to care and be affected… Not as close as a father and a daughter (even divorced) should have been though. There are things in the past I resent him for. I had sought for other father figures in my life when he wasn’t around, in my childhood and teen years: my mother’s cousin, a work colleague of my mother’s, then the fathers of two of my friends were also a bit like my fathers. And these …absences can’t be erased from my soul. It is something I grew up with, since I never knew a father in the house, and I had to come to peace with. With the children’s questions and wrong assumptions. With my feelings of something lacking when everybody mentioned their fathers in a certain context. But I know I wasn’t the only one to go through this. And I am glad I knew him, even if later, and that I have memories with him, to cherish now.
There are things I admire him for too. He was strong of mind and optimistic, even if he was doing dialysis for the last 1-2 years three times a week. Stronger than my mother, who is 86.
He used the computer as long as he could see on it, when I have colleagues my age who can’t adapt to the modern technology. He wrote his memories in MS Word, he copied CDs, listened to music and watched movies on the pc, talked with me on yahoo. More than some younger people are able to do.
And he was an extraordinary man, living through extraordinary times – he had been Jewish during the Second World War, he chose to be a communist since young, when they were outlawed. He had learnt as much as he could – both in technical field, where he was a… junior architect, I think it’s called in English the one who has only the architecture college, not the full degree, and in the economics field, where he got to be a renowned economist with several books and publications. He had been an expert in his field, prices and tariffs. Even after retirement, people called him for expertises in court, when there were trials related to this. He had talent at drawing, at cooking… which I haven’t inherited from him, unfortunately.
I used to say that I don’t love him, even if I don’t hate him either. But maybe I do love him still. Or at least, I care more than I expected to. Maybe in my own, strange, convoluted way, not like everyone. But I didn’t expect to cry for him as much as I have done it since I heard about his passing.
It feels stranger and helpless because I am at so much distance and I can’t go there now. I can’t be with my sister. And as I told her at phone, words are useless. How to say “Condolences” when it’s more than this. One says this to somebody stranger, but when it hurts the same… there have to be invented new words. And when they aren’t invented, then tears might be enough.
And here… I can’t do anything significant either. I don’t know even what mourning customs to keep, since we don’t share the same religion. Me, Christian Orthodox, he and my sister, Jewish. I had the same dilemma when my eldest sister died in 2003. Then, it was my father who understood and helped me in his own style. He made a sort of memorial book for her and gave me one copy as well. It sort of made up for not being there. And when I succeeded to arrive there, in 2008 and 2011, I went to the cemetery too.
Ultimately, after a long consideration, my husband and I decided to keep mourning for him for a few weeks. But he will be in my soul forever, for the memories we have got together. It is just right. And the candles have been lighted in my house for him ever since. There will be some other things I want to do too. Both some Jewish and some Christian Orthodox, because this is how I know to deal with death.
Some time within this month, I want to go to the Jewish Community when the Kaddish is said, and to read it with the others. I am not sure if I’ll go to the Synagogue or maybe only to the Community, which seems less intimidating for me. When I read the Kaddish for my halfsister, it was also at a community event.
As for how I know to deal with death, yes, he’ll be on the lists of prayers for the dead, together with my deceased sister and the others of his family, as my prayers list for the deads has three rows for three different families, and I would never admit to anyone who might not understand, that the people listed on the middle line are not Christian Orthodox. Some people said that prayers are good no matter in which faith; this is how it got to be like this. I’ll give for charity in his name, according to the Orthodox traditions. Including to a young man who has somehow a part of his name, even if not his sound, practical mind…
And I am sure I’ll find more ways to express my feelings. Probably in written, since this is what I can do better.
Farewell, my father! I am glad I knew you, I am glad we have some beautiful memories together. The hurtful part will efface in time. Death brings forward the happy memories. I am glad I am the mix of two different nationalities and cultures. I am glad I had the opportunity to know yours too, and that you and my sisters have helped me with this.
Wise words from one of my favourite young writers.
The ackee rule is one of my own invention, based on my experiences as a writer and a Jamaican eating ackee. It’s a guideline for writing in general, regarding the production of ideas. Simply put, it is as such:
An idea must be allowed to grow and mature if it is expected to prove of any significance.
I should start by discussing the ackee. Like many foods from the tropics, the ackee can poison you if you don’t cook it correctly. The ackee, however, is a badass fruit (although in Jamaica at least it is treated more like a staple) that takes this one step further: if you try to eat it before it has fully ripened, it might well kill your ass.
That isn’t all, though. This innocent-looking product of an evergreen tree also bears big black seeds, which, even after ripening, will still poison you if…
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I had another entry on relationships a while ago. This is a spinoff on it, based on the creative writing articles at http://www.springhole.net/writing/relationships-romance-and-shipping.htm
I fully agree with the writer, and I know I have found these concepts before, in other creative writing books and articles. Some of the rules of writing romance are:
1. The characters need to communicate with each other, not only to gaze silently and sigh. To engage their love interest in meaningful conversation. How are they supposed to bond if they don’t even communicate?
2. The characters need to be aware of each other’s emotional needs and boundaries and one shouldn’t hate a major trait of the other (unless willing to overcome that hate, because this is possible too), because one can’t actually love a person without accepting what the person actually is.
3. Don’t rush or take shortcuts in showing the relationship develop – show them in detail. Glossing over important relationship developments doesn’t do the story any favour. It makes it impossible for the readers to believe in the characters’ relationship or friendship, because it doesn’t create that emotional experience.
4. Don’t drop in a romance or crush out of nowhere, without a logical explanation and a gradual approach.
All these are true – however, how many times one has seen the opposite in their stories? How many times one has picked up somebody’s request for a lover… just not having them thread enough together in order to develop said relationship? How many times characters are avoiding effective communication and apply to offscreen shortcuts which make the relationship feel flat? And how many times writers (and therefore characters) vanish mid-story, leaving the other character in the air, and trying the best to glue back the shards into something to allow them to go on?
How can a character go on after several such misfortunes, especially if they happen in a short story time? And how believable can be such a progression? Or, by contrary, if seeming unaffected… how it is possible, either? Why don’t all the writers keep into consideration the creative writing rules and don’t want to keep consistency in their stories?
I have learnt that nothing can be achieved without full involvement and commitment. That you reap what you sow, and the effort bears fruit. In a hobby, giving yourself without half measures brings the satisfaction of achievement, and many other subsidiary ones.
But it seems most people dont know to live, to give themselves, to commit. They are lukewarm, not inspired, not excited, not invested, lacking any commitment. You cant build a house on sand; you can build it only on stone or on wood frames. Otherwise, the first gust would blow it down. I wish people understood it.
Enthusiasm is not sold in the bakery, to buy two loaves; if you give an idea, you should be prepared to follow it when openly embraced. If YOU cant get inspired by your own idea to actively participate (I am not saying to lead, because I know not everybody is a leader; this I can understand) then why would anybody else be inspired to implement it?
My experience says that when the one who gave the idea is not taking part at all, it is a downer to everybody, and (almost) nobody else would actually participate in said event, no matter how much the staff is supporting the ideas. Usually, when one gives an idea, should be not only willing to be involved, but inspired by said idea to write among the most active people there. I can and I will be really active; but I cant do it all alone, and the others would need your enthusiasm too in order to be persuaded to join.
You are saying that you would like reading this story, but you arent willing to commit to writing it, and you are telling me I might disappear midway, dont rely on me, but I think it is interesting for the whole group You deserve receiving a prize for honesty; a virtual cup full of enthusiasm and inspiration, if I could fill it with what you need the most. But this is not the way to write a story together. I feel this is the recipe for me to remain to write a whole factions story by myself – which wouldnt be the first time, no matter that it wasnt you some of the other times; it was another one or another one, still thinking like you.
What I can’t understand is why would you want to disappear, when it is your idea? And if your idea is not good enough to inspire YOU to write it and make it happen, how would it inspire others then? (Except odd cases like me, who can see the potential of a good story everywhere and go for it, and who write even with 38.7 C running fever.)
You say you like your character. OK, then maybe you know that no character development can happen unless you post regularly and get involved with him in the story. That a character grows through interaction with other characters, while doing his duty, while partying or while fighting. There can be (and are recommended to be) individual plots too. But, again, just planning them and not actually writing them doesn’t count. He has to be actively part of the story if you want exciting things to happen to him, to grow, to develop, to make friends.
Equally, logging in and lurking on the site without actually writing doesn’t count; your characters still don’t get the development you want. There is no other magic solution than get to actually write.
You should learn to commit in order to achieve something, To make room for all your hobbies in your week, especially when they involve other people too, and to finish what you have started.
Some of you already know – the rest will learn now – that I am an avid Roleplayer. I have been filling evenings with this fun activity for over 20 years, be it Pen & Paper, IRC, Forum or EMail. For about 3.5 years I am member of the fantastic Star Trek PbeM UFOP: Starbase 118, and this upcoming Saturday, we are hosting the Ongoing Worlds: Fall Festival V.
That’s right, the 2015 Simming Fall Festival will be held on December 5th from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM EST (1:30 PM to 10:30 PM GMT). Ongoing Worlds is proud to announce that UFOP: StarBase 118 will be hosting, with James Drysdale serving as chairman. You may remember that UFOP also hosted the 2013 festival, which was wildly successful. For a few short hours in December, the entire simming and online role playing community will come together to share ideas…
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