Friday, November 11, 2011


Not a lot of snow, but enough: Branches down, and others cracked, hanging dangerously low over some wires.

Oh Lord, has it come to this?  Am I really using snow-covered branches as some sort of metaphor for my emotional state?  Isn't that the most tired literary device imaginable?  Has my writing become this trite?

Still.  It's not a cheap use of a tired trope when it's actually true.  The branches really are hanging, and so is my mood.

Some back story might be helpful at this point, yes?  I got an email from my brother John the other day informing me of the death of our uncle, Ronald Dean Hegstrom.  John was quite sad, remembering the last family reunion (which--ominous chord--I did not attend), and how Uncle Deanie, in John's words, "looked like Dad, only different."

But this news didn't make me feel sad, just numb.  For so long, I associated Uncle Deanie and Aunt LeDora with the family reunions I actively hated as a kid, which were attended by people so much older than me, and there was never anyone for me to hang out with, so I'd just sit there, isolated and lonely.  It never occurred to me to, you know, talk to anyone.  They all seemed to know each other so well.

So I never got to know Uncle Deanie, and reading his obit, how he served in the military in Greenland and worked as a repair man, things I knew but didn't know, or didn't appreciate, because I never took the time, but damn, I was just a kid, what do you want from me?  Yeah, I could've taken the time as I got older, but, well...I didn't, and...

Look, that's not even what has me feeling so numb.  It's John's description of our uncle as looking kind of like Dad--because even my memories of Dad are starting to fade.  There are fleeting images, things I remember, still these become less concrete with each passing year, with each passing minute.

How can this happen?  Not just dad, but Mom, too, and everything about my childhood.  I can remember specific things, doing this and that, but the details of the faces that accompanied these activities, the sounds of voices, the smells and colors--all are going, all are past.

But I do remember the summer I turned seven, before I had my own room.  I slept on the couch in the living room, and when I went to bed, Dad would come over and kiss me goodnight. His breath smelled like Grain Belt and he barely said a word, but it was a small gesture of love that meant the world to me.  Maybe it's why I make a point of saying goodbye to the dog and all the cats whenever I go somewhere. 

So I have that to hang onto.  Maybe I'm not as numb as I think.  Maybe the branches can be easily trimmed.  Maybe there's nothing broken that can't be fixed.