Category Archives: aging

Writing 101 Day 18 First Person POV – The Move

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view  — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

 

Wonder why the police are knocking at Mrs. Pauley’s door. That old lady can’t be in trouble with the law, she never even leaves the  house. Ok, maybe she goes to the store. Yeah, she must go to the store because she always gives me cookies when I go over to help her out. Man, she makes the best cookies. Maybe I should go over to see if she needs my help after the police go. Hope she has chocolate chip today.

I look down and see my shoe is untied. If mom was home, she would help me. But Jason is the only one here. He won’t help me do anything. Keeps saying I have to learn to do it myself. Easy for him to say, he’s way smarter than me. He can read and he is only 10.

Glancing back up, I see old Mr. Peterson talking to the cop. He has been hanging around lately. Mom said he comes to get the rent from Mrs. Pauley. I’ve seen her peeking from behind the curtain, but won’t answer the door. Wonder why.

“Hey!” I yelled. The cops glance up and me but don’t answer. Now Mrs. Pauley is starting to cry. I am going to see what they are doing to make her cry.

Jumping up, I tripped on my shoelace and landed on my hands and knees. It hurt, but I am twelve now, so I tried hard not to cry.

“Mrs. Pauley,” I said when I got to the other side of the street.

She sniffed and looked at me. “I’m ok,” she said trying to smile.

“Why are they pulling your stuff out of the house?” I asked. “Do you want me to stop them?”

She sat on the porch swing and pulled me down by her.

“No, these nice men are helping me move to a new house,” she said.

“Why are you leaving me? Why are you moving? Who will make me cookies? Are you going to come to my birthday party on October 12th when I turn 13” I ask her more questions than she can answer.

Bending down to tie my shoe, she explained that she was moving to her son’s house to live with him.

“Ok,” I answered. I didn’t really understand. Maybe Mom would explain it to me when she got home from work. I hope she brings home some cookies.

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Writing 101 Day 14 – The Story Continues Part 3 The Greatest Loss

Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

For inspiration, ponder the phrase “lost and found.” What do you think about or visualize when you read this phrase? For an elementary schooler, it might be a box in their classroom, full of forgotten jackets and random toys. For a frequent traveler, it might be a facility in an airport, packed with lost phones, abandoned bags, and misplaced items.

On day four, you wrote about losing something. On day thirteen, you then wrote about finding something. So, today’s twist: If you’d like to continue our serial challenge,also reflect on the theme of “lost and found” more generally in this post.

Here are parts 1 & 2 in case you missed them:

The Greatest Loss (working title until something else replaces it)

“Time is of the essence!” declares Charlie as he slowing moves across the crowded restaurant using his hated walker.

It was nice to be able to get around without falling over, but honestly, did his grandkids really need to put those neon yellow tennis balls on the front legs of the thing? He was steady enough to pick it up each time he moved forward. Most of the time anyway.

“Mom, mom, mom,” chanted his six-year-old great-granddaughter. She didn’t really want anything other than being the center of attention. Hopping around like a kangaroo on crack, she banged into the back of at least three people on the way to their table. One lady dropped pasta down the front of a previously lovely white sweater when her lunch was disrupted by the girl.

“Katie, come back here,” hissed Charlie’s newly divorced daughter Amanda. “Dad, we’ll just meet you at the table, don’t hurry.”

Amanda may have told him not to hurry, but Charlie heard the impatience in her voice. She was irritated with her granddaughter and her father. He tried to step it up a bit, but his hip was really sore from a fall the night before. Of course he didn’t say anything about it to Amanda, she’d be one step closer to moving him to a nursing home and herself in his house.

Finally arriving at the table, he thumped down in the chair with an audible sigh of relief for having made the journey from the car safely. Gone were the days when he could hop out of the car without even thinking about it, jog to the stairs and take them two at a time. Sitting quietly collecting himself while the women in his life chatter over their lunch choices, he wondered how he slipped unnoticed from a vibrant young man to the old codger he’d become.

Charlie rather enjoyed watching the spectacle going on around him. Until Katie grabbed Amanda’s purse upending it all over the table and his lap. Bits of gum, pens and papers surrounded their table like shrapnel.

“Dad, I’ll be right back, Katie and I need to go outside and discuss proper behavior,” said Amanda as she steered the contrite young girl towards the door.

Charlie began picking up the papers he could easily reach, when he flipped over an envelope with his name on it. Frowning he looked inside and realized it was from a mortgage company. His house was paid for, why would they send a bill with his name on it to Amanda’s address?

Part 2

A much more subdued Katie walked stiffly back to the table where her great-grandfather waited. Amanda followed, her lipstick a tight blood-red slash on her pale face. She sat down in the chair looking every bit as tired as her father.

“Katie,” she said quietly. “What do you have to say to Great-Grandpa?”

“I’m sorry I was noisy and rude and made a mess with Grandma’s purse,” Katie answered as she looked down at her scuffed crocs.

Charlie cleared his throat and attempted to look sternly at the little girl. She really did look small and even a bit sorry.

“That’s ok Katie, now eat the rest of your lunch and you can have a scoop of orange sherbet for dessert.”

Relieved to be out of trouble, and a little  bit afraid of the only man who ever made her follow rules, she settled onto the seat to eat the lunch the server brought while she was outside. One hand held half of a grilled cheese sandwich, the other picked daintily at the fruit dish. Strawberries were her favorite, she ate them first. She started on the grapes as Charlie turned from her and waved the mortgage bill at Amanda.

“How long have you had a mortgage out on my home?” he asked.

At first Amanda just sat looking at the bill in her father’s hand. Then she began to cry.

“Daddy,” she sobbed. “I had no choice.”

“We always have choices in this life,” he answered, then sat back to wait for her explanation.

Amanda struggled to get the words out, but eventually the silence was too deafening to keep quiet any longer.

“Dad, I had to put Julie in rehab and take legal custody of Katie. Six months ago I went over to visit unannounced and found Katie alone. She’d been alone for an entire day. When Julie finally came home she was so high she didn’t even know me. They wouldn’t take her at the hospital unless I paid up front. I am so sorry, I had no choice.”

Charlie leaned over the table placing his gnarled hand over his daughter’s ice cold fingers. Letting out the breath he’d been holding, he smiled faintly at his only child. How could he have not know what was going on in his on in his own family?

Part 3

“I have my house on the market,” Amanda started in a monotone. “As soon as it sells, I planned to pay off the mortgage, and then find a small apartment to rent for Katie and me. We won’t need much space, I have been slowly selling my furniture in case the rehab facility needs more money.”

The server cruised up to the side of the table with a chipper snap of her gum. “Can I getcha any refills?”

“That would be just fine,” answered Charlie, more out of the need to get rid of her than thirst. He glanced at Katie. She had pulled a book out of her backpack and was quietly thumbing through the pages.

“The market is starting to open up,” Amanda said, drawing his attention back to her. “Don’t worry Dad, It should sell by fall and you will not have to worry a bit. I am so sorry you had to find out. You shouldn’t have to worry about me now that I am past 50 for heaven’s sake.”

Charlie grinned. “Do you think you will ever stop worrying about Julie? I know she’s really in trouble now, but once she cleans up her act, settles down and starts flying right, do you think you will ever go to bed not worrying about her?”

Amanda actually smiled. “I guess you’ve got me there. No matter how hard I try, I still worryabout her.”

The refills arrived, untouched plates were cleared and Katie decided she really wanted vanilla ice cream with strawberry topping and whipped cream. Lots of whipped cream, but no cherry. She hated them. The server, still clueless to the family drama going on at her table, zipped off to continue flirting witha nice looking bus boy. “Oh to be young again,” thought Charlie.

“When I walked in here today,” Charlie said, “I was thinking about how much fun we used to have when you were a little girl.”

Amanda smiled.

“We were busy all the time, playing cards after dinner. Heck, just making dinner was more fun than work since you used to help your mom and me every night. I was feeling pretty useless lately.”

“Dad, of course you aren’t useless!” she interrupted him.

Holding up his hand to stop her, he continued. “Here is what we are going to do. You are going to sell your house. Then you will pay off the mortgage you took out on my house. But, you will NOT move into an apartment. Katie and you are moving in with me. The schools are still good in my neighborhood, she can start in the fall. We will teach her how to play a rummy, using an upside down box to hold the cards just like you did.”

“I can’t ask you to do this,” Amanda protested.

“You didn’t ask me, I am telling you,” replied her father with more authority in his voice that had been there in years. “I will not take no for an answer, young lady!”

With that Amanda laughed out loud. “Geeze,  I don’t think you’ve called me young lady for 30 years!”

Charlie turned to Katie. “Are you ready to go home?”

She hopped off of the chair after one last lick of her ice cream spoon. “Ok Grandpa, can we come to your house?”

He smiled and nodded while slowly rising out of his chair. Making his way out of the restaurant, he walked a little taller. In the span of an hour he got something back he never thought he would ever feel again. They needed him. Even though circumstances were far from ideal, he could help make the situation better. It was good to have new purpose and meaning in his life that he thought he would never feel again.

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing 101 Day 13_Part 2 of Day 4_ The Greatest Loss

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today, write about finding something.

Tell us about the time you retrieved your favorite t-shirt from your ex. Or when you accidentally stumbled upon your fifth-grade journal in your parents’ attic. Or how about the moment you found out the truth about a person whose history or real nature you thought you’d figured out. Interpret this theme of “finding something” however you see fit.

Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

I’ve copied part 1 from Day 4 – if you already read and remember, just skip on down to Part 2

The Greatest Loss (working title until something else replaces it)

“Time is of the essence!” declares Charlie as he slowing moves across the crowded restaurant using his hated walker.

It was nice to be able to get around without falling over, but honestly, did his grandkids really need to put those neon yellow tennis balls on the front legs of the thing? He was steady enough to pick it up each time he moved forward. Most of the time anyway.

“Mom, mom, mom,” chanted his six-year-old great-granddaughter. She didn’t really want anything other than being the center of attention. Hopping around like a kangaroo on crack, she banged into the back of at least three people on the way to their table. One lady dropped pasta down the front of a previously lovely white sweater when her lunch was disrupted by the girl.

“Katie, come back here,” hissed Charlie’s newly divorced daughter Amanda. “Dad, we’ll just meet you at the table, don’t hurry.”

Amanda may have told him not to hurry, but Charlie heard the impatience in her voice. She was irritated with her granddaughter and her father. He tried to step it up a bit, but his hip was really sore from a fall the night before. Of course he didn’t say anything about it to Amanda, she’d be one step closer to moving him to a nursing home and herself in his house.

Finally arriving at the table, he thumped down in the chair with an audible sigh of relief for having made the journey from the car safely. Gone were the days when he could hop out of the car without even thinking about it, jog to the stairs and take them two at a time. Sitting quietly collecting himself while the women in his life chatter over their lunch choices, he wondered how he slipped unnoticed from a vibrant young man to the old codger he’d become.

Charlie rather enjoyed watching the spectacle going on around him. Until Katie grabbed Amanda’s purse upending it all over the table and his lap. Bits of gum, pens and papers surrounded their table like shrapnel.

“Dad, I’ll be right back, Katie and I need to go outside and discuss proper behavior,” said Amanda as she steered the contrite young girl towards the door.

Charlie began picking up the papers he could easily reach, when he flipped over an envelope with his name on it. Frowning he looked inside and realized it was from a mortgage company. His house was paid for, why would they send a bill with his name on it to Amanda’s address?

Part 2

A much more subdued Katie walked stiffly back to the table where her great-grandfather waited. Amanda followed, her lipstick a tight blood-red slash on her pale face. She sat down in the chair looking every bit as tired as her father.

“Katie,” she said quietly. “What do you have to say to Great-Grandpa?”

“I’m sorry I was noisy and rude and made a mess with Grandma’s purse,” Katie answered as she looked down at her scuffed crocs.

Charlie cleared his throat and attempted to look sternly at the little girl. She really did look small and even a bit sorry.

“That’s ok Katie, now eat the rest of your lunch and you can have a scoop of orange sherbet for dessert.”

Relieved to be out of trouble, and a little  bit afraid of the only man who ever made her follow rules, she settled onto the seat to eat the lunch the server brought while she was outside. One hand-held half of a grilled cheese sandwich, the other picked daintily at the fruit dish. Strawberries were her favorite, she ate them first. She started on the grapes as Charlie turned from her and waved the mortgage bill at Amanda.

“How long have you had a mortgage out on my home?” he asked.

At first Amanda just sat looking at the bill in her father’s hand. Then she began to cry.

“Daddy,” she sobbed. “I had no choice.”

“We always have choices in this life,” he answered, then sat back to wait for her explanation.

Amanda struggled to get the words out, but eventually the silence was too deafening to keep quiet any longer.

“Dad, I had to put Julie in rehab and take legal custody of Katie. Six months ago I went over to visit unannounced and found Katie alone. She’d been alone for an entire day. When Julie finally came home she was so high she didn’t even know me. They wouldn’t take her at the hospital unless I paid up front. I am so sorry, I had no choice.”

Charlie leaned over the table placing his gnarled hand over his daughter’s ice cold fingers. Letting out the breath he’d been holding, he smiled faintly at his only child. How could he have not know what was going on in his on in his own family?

Stay tuned for the end of the story (just as soon as the powers that be give me the go-ahead) 🙂

 

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Writing 101 Day 9_The Sweater

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

“Gran,” he whispered through his tears. “I haven’t seen you in so long, why did you hide from me?”

Dropping his wife’s hand, he knelt in front of the old woman. Gently, he grasped both of her gnarled hands in his, stilling them. He drew them to his face, the scent of wool and Evening in Paris filled his nose with memories of the woman who raised him.

“I can’t believe it is you,” he said. “Everyone told me you were dead years ago. I missed you so much!”

The old woman gently dried his tears with the red wool that hung limp on her circular needles.

“Sweetheart, I never really left you,” she said with a sweet smile. “Come, sit by me while I knit.”

He stood, brushing the dust from his knees. Releasing her hands he sat next to her as she slowing continued her handywork. A quick glance at his wife earned him a smile as she watched their reunion. She waited patiently while a faint frown played across her face.

“Evan,” she spoke after a quarter of an hour pasted. “Come on honey, we have to get home for dinner.”

The old woman patted him on the knee as rose from her side.

“You are a good boy Evan, it was nice to see you today,” she said.

She smiled up at his wife, her needles clicking as she continued working on the ribbing at the bottom of the tiny red sweater.

“Alzheimer’s?” she asked his wife.

His wife nodded. She was the one softly crying as they walked away.

 

 

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Writing 101 day 7: The old one and the young one

Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

She slowly rose from the low bed, grumbling and grousing without opening her mouth. Her hair used to be as black as onyx, but somehow turned white practically over night. Blue eyes, once clear enough to see even when the dusk of the evening claimed the sky, have gone milky with cataracts, making them water in the morning sun.

Her breakfast, the usual stuff with a pill chaser was waiting patiently while her arthritic legs carried her to the kitchen. Just as she bent her head to begin her meal the young one grabbed it instead.

Jumping, hoping, sassy mouth yapping the young one boldly grabbed part of her meal. Why even snap or snarl at her when she didn’t listen anyway? The young one had bright eyes and enough energy for both of them, she was always ready to run, play and bother anyone that couldn’t keep up with the antics only youth can pull off without breaking a bone. Or two.

Moving to the yard, the young one chases birds and squirrels and toads. The old one saunters over to the shade for a nap.

“How is my favorite girl?” the woman asks, giving the old one a hug.

Afternoon nap Indy and Mea

The young one runs over to steal some attention, as if to say, “Me! me! Look at ME!”

“I love you both,” says the woman. “My best old girl, you have to teach this one some manners.”

The old one sighs with contentment, basking in the love she feels from hand smoothing down her hair. She allows the young one to snuggle by her side. The woman is right, the young one could learn a trick or two from her, and wasn’t only it yesterday she was the young one?

 

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Writing 101 Day 6

(Note to anyone that might be wondering about the 3rd and last installment in the trilogy – I was sadly mistaken, the subject will be forthcoming, at which time I will add a second, second part and carry on).

This is today’s subject:

Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).

Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.

He sauntered across the gravel road to stand in the sparse grass of my father-in-law’s front yard. An empty beer bottle in one hand, a wad of chew in his jaw and a shy smile on his young face.

“I had to get away from that wedding,” he answered the question as to what brought him to his family’s summer cabin alone this hot June night. Never explaining whose wedding he escaped, he asked to borrow something from the garage to make a small home repair on the aging structure behind him.

Easily six-foot tall, he wore the muscles and calloused hands of a working man, but his face betrayed his age. When he stopped back later to visit, we discovered he was a high school junior, out for the summer. Currently a football player that hates school, loves working on cars in his family’s auto shop business, he tells of the busy summer ahead of him as the maintenance man for some properties his family owns. The soft lines of his face harden as he talks of the heavy burden on his  mind.

His family would love to groom him to take over the family business one day. He would be the fourth generation of the well respected shop. Some young men would jump at the chance, but his one isn’t convinced. He loves his family and the job, but he is leaning toward joining the military instead of taking the easy road to adulthood.

Tilting the bill of his baseball cap, he conversed easily with us, no matter the 50 & 70 year age differences. His quiet, yet earnest voice shared his dislike of school in general, his love of sports and a fondness for the Dukes of Hazzard (the old TV series from the 80’s, not the new movie).

I spent about three hours with this young man, but immediately liked him. I’ve thought of him often since our paths crossed. I hope his family supports him no matter what decision or direction he decides to take. Success and happiness in an uncertain world is all I can hope for the next generation, and this nice young man I met. I bet this is the same thing my father-in-law’s generation thought as they looked at us 50 years ago.

 

 

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Writing 101 day 5

Here is today’s challenge: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

Part II of The Greatest Loss

Charlie rather enjoyed watching the spectacle going on around him. Until Katie grabbed Amanda’s purse upending it all over the table and his lap. Bits of gum, pens and papers surrounded their table like shrapnel.

“Dad, I’ll be right back, Katie and I need to go outside and discuss proper behavior,” said Amanda as she steered the contrite young girl towards the door.

Charlie began picking up the papers he could easily reach, when he flipped over an envelope with his name on it. Frowning he looked inside and realized it was from a mortgage company. His house was paid for, why would they send a bill with his name on it to Amanda’s address?

Stay tuned until Monday for the third and final installment. Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Writing 101 day 4

Day 4 we are assigned to write about a loss. Our musings can or cannot be part of a trilogy of posts based upon our chosing. I decided to roll with the idea of three connected posts, so come back tomorrow and Monday for the next installments. I’ve also made the choice of writing a work of fiction this time to give me more liberties.

The Greatest Loss (working title until something else replaces it)

“Time is of the essence!” declares Charlie as he slowing moves across the crowded restaurant using his hated walker.

It was nice to be able to get around without falling over, but honestly, did his grandkids really need to put those neon yellow tennis balls on the front legs of the thing? He was steady enough to pick it up each time he moved forward. Most of the time anyway.

“Mom, mom, mom,” chanted his six-year-old great-granddaughter. She didn’t really want anything other than being the center of attention. Hopping around like a kangaroo on crack, she banged into the back of at least three people on the way to their table. One lady dropped pasta down the front of a previously lovely white sweater when her lunch was disrupted by the girl.

“Katie, come back here,” hissed Charlie’s newly divorced daughter Amanda. “Dad, we’ll just meet you at the table, don’t hurry.”

Amanda may have told him not to hurry, but Charlie heard the impatience in her voice. She was irritated with her granddaughter and her father. He tried to step it up a bit, but his hip was really sore from a fall the night before. Of course he didn’t say anything about it to Amanda, she’d be one step closer to moving him to a nursing home and herself in his house.

Finally arriving at the table, he thumped down in the chair with an audible sigh of relief for having made the journey from the car safely. Gone were the days when he could hop out of the car without even thinking about it, jog to the stairs and take them two at a time. Sitting quietly collecting himself while the women in his life chatter over their lunch choices, he wondered how he slipped unnoticed from a vibrant young man to the old codger he’d become.

End part 1 – hope to see you tomorrow 🙂

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