My father died eleven years ago, on a Wednesday like today. I miss him. When I was ten years old, I showed him the first short story that I’d ever written, about a grape turning into a raisin. He shared it with several relatives at my sister’s high school graduation party. He didn’t often single out one of his six children for special praise, but did that day.
My father was a critical man, but hardly ever critical about my writing. I didn’t share a lot of it with him, unless it had a funny twist, since he loved making people laugh. Once I shared a serious piece about breaking 13 acres–where we’d turned it into farmland with lots of work. (There are huge rocks and tree roots that have to be removed–you make a pass of the biggest stuff, then another, then another, then another. I was a teenager at the time and wasn’t involved in the first pass, but all the others.) When I shared a short essay based on that experience, his comment was “I don’t like stories with lots of he said in them.” (I believe I left the identity of the people vague.) Years later, he said out of the blue, “Remember that piece you wrote about the 13 acres? I get what you were doing and it was great.”
I now own that 13 acres. I will never be a farmer, but I just couldn’t let that land go out of the family.