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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Writers' Workshop: Tears, fears and a shotgun ringing in my ears

I had a meltdown at work today. I had to get up out of my chair, leave my office, go outside of the building inside of which I work and weather the storm. Anyone who knows me would be asking, "who was he angry at this time?" I was angry with no one. I wasn’t angry, I was floored. I could not stop the grief from pouring out of me. It is known to happen more than I care to admit and has been for the last ten years. But I digress. When and where I have emotional meltdowns is not as important here and now as why I had this particular meltdown.

For once again I have been over to Mama Kat’s blog, Mama’s Losing It! I like to participate in the Writers’ Workshop she features each week, catch up on what she has been posting (she has some of the most creative posts I have read) and she has such a collection of interesting blog-stalkers and commentors. But today she has laid my heart so low with her post from her own heart, a poem written about one of the continual looping cycles of families. She has penned one of the most heart-touching poems about the metamorphosis of her life as a child. It spans the timeline from having a whole family, through the loss and mourning of her father, to her eventual adulthood including a husband and children, thereby bringing her situation back to the wholeness of a complete family once more, but for the next generation.

And she sums it up quite well by describing it simply as "a scary place to be."

I look at her pictures, especially the second one of her in her grief, and I rue that I may have caused such suffering for my own two children. I know that I caused it. I know that it is my own fault and that as much as I may rant about how my ex is treating me, that it is a direct consequence of my own failures as a husband and father. The thought and realization of this possible effect on my daughter and son is rending me. It has for ten years and it will continue. It is my invisible prison cell and a cell from which I will never be able to escape from or pay restitution enough to ease the burden of my cross. I am humbled and ashamed of my actions and lack of foresight.

Describing it is not good enough, you should read it for yourself and see the accompanying photos. It is simply beautiful.

What a/an (insert own appropriate descriptive name here – I used wench)!! I stop by her post to participate in the writing festivities and she sandbags me with own guilt. Women, we just can’t trust them guys. Sheesh.

But nonetheless, I am going to participate anyway! So here are the prompts:

1.) Define goodness...joy...sorrow...and anger using pictures you've taken.
2.) Tomorrow I will do it differently. Here's how...
3.) Describe a 'sound' from your childhood. What was it? When did you hear it? What does it bring to mind?
4.) I remember when...
5.) Right now is the best time to start. What's your first step?

Tough prompts this week. I will skip the first one because I don’t have my pictures available at the moment (but I thought Mama Kat did a good job of covering this one with her post, as well as prompt #4). The second one, maybe. The third prompt is interesting, but I don’t recall a lot of "sounds" that spark memories from my childhood. Wait, I do have one for prompt #3. I’ll come back to that. Prompt #4, Mama Kat blew it out of the water. It doesn’t even exist anymore. And the last prompt just makes my head hurt thinking about it. So I’ll write about the third one.

There is at least one sound that I do remember that has a lot to do with a big chunk of my past. That sound is loud and quick! It makes you almost pee your pants if you are not expecting it. Even when you are expecting it you jump when it happens. It yells "DANGER" at you when it sounds. It makes every bit of nature around you flee. It is a criminal’s worst nightmare and sweet music to an honest man.

It is the sound of a shotgun being fired.

I am one of eight brothers. And my grandfather was one of a number of brothers also. He grew up on a farm in western Missouri. He was taught how to fish and hunt at an early age. He joined the army right after graduating high school to serve in World War I. Even though serving in the war as a messenger, he was commended for trading his side arm pistol for a rifle, which he used as a sniper against the enemy within the Arragon forest in France. He was mustard gassed and had his backpack shot while on his back. He was lethal with a firearm. When he came home he took up wild-catting and made his home and living here in the desert of West Texas. He competed in and won a lot of sporting competitions for shotguns. He hunted a lot. My father hunted a lot and he was also quite lethal with a firearm. My father was also a retired full colonel in the military. Hunting and guns have been a part of my families heritage for as far back as I can find in my research. My grandfather and father passed on enough guns to us boys that we each have several. I am quite lethal with a shotgun. I hunt. I take my son hunting and will take my daughter if she ever shows an interest. They will be lethal with firearms too (call it a self-preservation skill).

And that sound, the sound of a shotgun being fired, brings back fond memories of many Saturday and Sunday mornings and evenings out in the fields around West Texas. Those trips, walking and whispering with my brothers or my father, were moments shared with the people closest to my heart. Moments with no worries or fears, just the excitement of stalking and successfully hunting game. Not hunting just for the sake of killing, but for food and sport, for the experience and the practice to be good with the tool that allowed our forefathers to break out from under their oppressors. This, to me, is the sound of freedom and security from the tool that allows an honest man to defend his home and family from intruders and criminals.

8 comments:

Melissa said...

Stewey-- don't be too hard on yourself... I am not sure what your family history is, but you don't seem like such a bad guy that would make your children hurt that bad!! Smile... "buck up little camper".... :)

Trudy said...

I agree with Melissa...you're too hard on yourself. We could all find 'ghosts' in our pasts if we really thought about it. You're a great guy with a big heart, I can tell that just by reading your blog! I do agree with you though on one thing, how could anyone come close to touching #4 after the brilliance that was Mama Kat today!

I liked the post...love your blog!

CJ said...

What a wonderful heartfelt story.

Margo said...

I echo - don't be so hard on yourself! We all are imperfect and hurt the people we love at times. Forgive yourself, forgive everyone. Don't judge yourself, don't judge anyone - it's not our job. Don't punish yourself over and over for anything. Your writing is very brave, and most writer's can't say that. I love the use of a gun shot as a jumping off place!

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

Love the story!

Hey - come shooting with us sometime! i have loaner guns...

Jennifer P. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
angie said...

I think I need to stop a think before I even attempt to comment...

No one told me how much guilt was associated with raising children. I find myself wishing I could take back actions (or reactions) so many times. I think that in the end though (even if it takes years) our children will be able to wade through and be able to see how much we loved them, and that's what they'll remember. At least I hope so. None of us are perfect....and children understand that. I'm sure. That paragraph about it REALLY, really moved me.

I've been so busy with my renovations and move I didn't even read Mama Kat's poem......I'm glad I have the chance to go back and read it now.

I enjoyed reading about the sound of your childhood. I especially liked at the end how you talked about what the sound represents. Sadly, the only sound I associate with my childhood is crying. I did too much of it......

I've appreciated your comments......and the chance to read your post today.

Jennifer P. said...

Loved your comment on levitating the dirty socks!

And I'm sorry it's taken so long to get over here and explain the background of the poem I left you. Let's just say--In other words: Married men should not patronize prostitutes.

You'll have to read it again now and see if that little tidbit does anything different to it. I try not to do a lot of explaining behind my poems so that they can mean something different to everyone that reads thme. A lot of times they are meant to just be read and felt rather than understood anyway. However, I LOVE when I get to go to a poetry reading and hear the poet explain where they were at in time or emotions when they wrote the poem--so I make sure to do some expounding for those who ask.

I'll have to share some more with you soon---though they all seem to be about the divorce and the reprocutions of it lately. Ah well!