August 26, 2013


This summer I came across a file of family mementoes that included two tributes my father had written to honor fellow workers at their retirement parties. His job was hard manual labor--working to maintain the turbines that supply electric power to our area. The men he worked with over the years had a special camaraderie heavily seasoned with "powerhouse" humor. Both show through in my father's writing as he sent two friends off into the world of retirement.

I reflected, as I read his words, that people who didn't know my dad would have been surprised to learn that he read a lot. I remember complete sets of Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain on our bookshelves, alongside the encyclopedia set that played a big part in our dinner table discussions. Those same folks would never have suspected that my father had a flair for composition. In those two tributes, he managed to honor the personality and character of each man and also point out their foibles with gentle humor.

Over the past weekend, I discovered a delicious piece of writing by my mother. Although she graduated high school with a scholarship to a local college, she couldn't afford to buy the textbooks and so didn't use the scholarship. Years later, when her children were mostly grown, she enrolled in another local college and began taking night classes. For one of her English classes, she wrote a humorous essay titled, "Food for Thought." It makes clear that eating out with six children is an adventure full of surprises.

So, both my parents had a way with words. Maybe there is a writing gene. My five siblings and I have inherited it in different ways. Some of us are eloquent speakers (not me!) and some lean toward the written expression of how we feel or what we believe. Like my parents, we all love to tell a good story--and none of us are above embellishing it a bit!

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