Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge

Today is February 2nd, 2021, and I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Death has, once again, laid its icy hands upon my chest.

It was just last Tuesday she called me. “You didn’t write this week,” she said. No, I had not written. It had been a busy week, I explained. Had she read my post from the week prior? I asked. “The one about the mandoline?” she queried. “Oh, yes. My friend printed it out and read that one to me. I gotta tell ya, I never heard of a mandoline for a kitchen in my life!” she laughed. We both laughed.

That small laugh – our final one – was one of hundreds, maybe thousands I enjoyed with my 100-year-old Grammy. Besides my mom, Helen Abner Callaway, my dear Gram, was the woman I had known the longest.

Until last Friday.

Yes, she had lived nearly four months beyond the age of 100. Yes, I am so lucky to have had her in my life for so long. Yes, I should have been ready, prepared somehow for her passing.

But still.

Perhaps one can never prepare for the icy fingers of death. I don’t know. But I do know the phenomenally long life my grandmother lived stands as nothing less than remarkable. Born during the year of Women’s Suffrage, Gram bore witness to so much change across her century-long life. She gave freely; she raised three successful daughters; she contributed to her community. She was an incredible woman.

Tears still fresh in my eyes, I returned home last Friday after receiving the terrible call from my aunt. The sun had retreated behind the clouds, and the frigid air bit at the tips of my ears. Reaching my front door, I cast my gaze downward. There, I noticed the thin, nondescript package lying in the snow. Tearing at the edge, I slipped my hand inside the mysterious package and removed a fresh, new button-down shirt. And a card. It read,

“Happy Birthday! Love, Grammy.”

That was her. That was my Gram. Never forgot a birthday. Even mine, which isn’t until March.

I know the icy grief will remain for a while. But I await the warm memories that will eventually replace the sorrow I feel now. I love you, Gram.

Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge

Today is January 19, 2021, and I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge.

The lady in front of us looked to be around 80 years old. To the clerk at the checkout counter we heard her say, “I’m here to pick up my order.” The clerk, wearing a blue vest and dark-rimmed glasses, instructed the lady to move to the side; her order would be brought to the front of the store shortly. She then turned to my two girls and I and motioned us forward. It was our turn to check out.

Moving toward the check-out counter of the cavernous Ocean State Job Lot, an east coast discount retailer known for selling household goods and apparel, my two oldest daughters and I placed our items in front of the clerk. Suddenly, turning her head toward the woman waiting for her order, the clerk asked, “What was your order?”

“Two mandolins,” came the response.

As my daughters and I exited the store, my nine-year-old asked me, “Papa, what’s a ‘mandolin’?”

“Well, it’s like a small guitar,” I answered, placing my arm around her shoulder as we crossed the parking lot toward our car.

From there, the questions came flooding out from all three of us: Since when did Ocean State Job Lot sell… mandolins? And why would an 80-year-old woman be ordering two of them? What would she do with two mandolins? Who were the mandolins for? Such a mystery!

Driving away from the store, my daughters and I began to laugh and laugh and laugh. The questions continued, tumbling out one by one: Was the old lady a music teacher? Were the mandolins for her grandchildren, perhaps? But the biggest question resurfaced over and over: Why was she buying musical instruments at Ocean State Job Lot?

A few dozen more questions must have escaped our lips as we made our drive home that day. As we walked in the front door of our house, my daughters both agreed this would be a shopping trip none of us would ever forget.

EPILOGUE: Later that evening, my wife explained that a MANDOLINE was a kitchen device used for slicing.

Okay, then.

Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge

Today is January 12, 2021, and I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge.

These moments will not be forever.

“Put on a song, Papa!” It had been a long day. No longer working remotely, I had spent two hours driving, worked a full day in my building, and just finished loading the dishwasher. But the innocent, raw joy imbuing my four-year-old daughter’s invitation to dance quickly overcame my fatigue last night.

Her eyes glinted as I fumbled with my iPhone, trying to locate the music app, connect to my portable Bose speaker. “Put on a fast song,” she instructed, already sending her little body and hair into motion with enthusiastic dance moves. Arms waved. Legs kicked.

Suddenly the speaker burst to life, as the Pandora app on my phone selected a Meghan Trainor tune. Setting my phone on the counter, I turned to move to the dance floor. There she stood. Hand out. Four-year-old delight radiating from her entire being, as she waited for me to take her hand and dance with her.

These moments are fleeting. She is my third daughter, and so I speak from experience when I make such a statement. I must always remember that when it is time to do a puzzle, play in the dollhouse, or dance to Meghan Trainor, I need to do it. No matter how tired I am. I need to do it. Because this time will not last. And these moments will not be forever.

Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 31 #sol19

Last day now.  Thank you…

To all you wrote.

To all you who commented.

To all you who learned.

To all you who lived like a writer.

To all you who believed this matters.

To all you who contributed to my life.

To all you who contributed to the lives of others.

Because you care.

It took something for you to do this.

So thank you.

Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 30 #sol19


Something about
Feeling heard
Makes the soul sing
Makes us feel
Like we matter
In the world.

Softly closing the door on a long day
She greets me.
“Well?” she asks.
I nod
And feel my eyes shine.
“I felt heard today,” I say.
Writing. Literacy. Music.  
A trifecta.
She smiles.

Crawling into bed late, 
I thank the cloud
the one that’s been holding me.
Sleep now needed,

my smiling soul 

drifts off.

to sleep.