Challenge #14-The Register’s Great Bike Ride Across Iowa

My 14th and final Challenge is to write a local news story. It’s 10 minutes to midnight.writing challenge14

RAGBRAI, Iowa’s annual bike ride across the state, is in full swing and unfortunately, there has already been one accident.

A Sioux City , Iowa, woman was arrested Sunday morning after she ran into RAGBRAI riders from Wisconsin, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. It happened just as riders were just taking off the first day of the ride. Police officers were controlling an intersection to allow riders to safely leave the area.

The driver of the car went around the barricade and struck a tandem bike ridden by Bruce and Barbara Blair of Hudson, Wisconsin. The woman’s injuries were minor, but the man injured his leg, possibly breaking it.  They were both taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance.

The driver of the car, Charryse Chavez, 36, was arrested a few blocks away and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, no insurance, and failure to obey a police officer.

Challenge #13-Love, absolutley

Challenge #13 says I have to write about something I absolutely love. This is a hard one because I love a lot of things. I guess I’ll just have to pick one.writing challenge13

I love Stephen King. I don’t remember the first SK book I read, but I’ve read a lot of them. There were a few of his books I never read, but saw the movie.  (Christine comes to mind.) And I read Carrie after I watched the movie. (The book was better by far.)

There were a few books that I haven’t gotten too, yet. And there are books that I didn’t know were even written by Stephen. (He also writes under Richard Bachman, or did, anyway.)

I have my favorites of course; books that I could read over and over again. I loved It and The Stand (though it took me months to read) and The Talisman (my all-time favorite).

What I love most about Stephen King is the way he makes me feel as I read his stories. He is the most awesome storyteller I have ever known. The twists and turns and double-twist backflip at the end of each story leaves me wanting to read more. King writes in a way that makes me feel like I’m a part of the story. But I guess it helps to have a wild imagination, one where my dreams came become my reality at a flip of a switch,a lot like Jack in The Talisman. (For those who have never read the book, Jack is able to flip back and forth between two worlds.)

I saw an ad for Dr. Sleep, a sequel to The Shining, that I am dying to read (no pun intended)-if I can find the time, that is. King’s stories have terrified me and inspired me, and I hope someday I can write a story that makes my readers feel that way. The inspire part, not the terrify part.


Challenge #11-Oops

How could I miss # 11? It’s the one where I write about what’s on my mind.  It’s 11 o’clock at night. After working 13 hours, the only thing that’s on my mind is sleep. But there is something else…writing challenge11

Have you ever heard of Flipboard? It’s pretty cool. You get to make your own magazine. Well, actually, it’s a collection of articles about subjects you want to read about. You get to choose various topics and the computer finds them for you and puts them all in one place.

I heard about it when I attended a workshop to learn all about Hootsuite, which is kind of like a dashboard for your social media. It’s great for people who use a variety of social media platforms for their organizations.

As I was looking through my flipboard, I came across the extraterrestrial folder and came upon this video of an “alien.”  Another shows a different alien scaling a building.

Is it real, or not? It reminds me of something the Enquirer might try to convince is rea.  I suppose anything is possible, but we should be careful not to believe everything we see on the internet. I guess I’m going to have to have more proof, like seeing them outside my door.

I have other, more legitimate articles on my flipboard, which I can post to my business’ social media pages and get ideas for blogs. It’s amazing the things I’ve learned so far, like the scientist who found out he was a psychopath (and it changed his life forever.)


Challenge #12-How lucky can you get?

You’re probably wondering why I have gone into writing-frenzy-mode. I started my writing challenge June 20 and gave myself a month to complete them. Today is July 20. Yikes.

I have three challenges to complete by midnight. The 12th challenge is to write a short story. Believe me, it will be short and sweet.writing challenge12

How lucky can you get?

Tucker ran down the sidewalk toward the pharmacy. He had to get there before it closed, and he only had a few minutes. He had to get his mother’s medicine. She had been sick for so long, and was in so much pain. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her.

“She might as well be at home with family, rather than in the hospital,” they told Tucker and his dad.

The traffic signal turned yellow, and then red. But Tucker couldn’t wait. He looked right, left, and right again. Just as he was about ready to stepped off the curb, a big black limousine turned the corner right into a puddle, splashing Tucker from head to toe. But he didn’t care. He was on a mission.

Tucker looked around and didn’t see any cars coming so he made a run for it. When he reached the other side, he slipped and fell on the curb. He was about to jump up when something caught his eye. It was white and furry and he almost didn’t pick it up, but something compelled him to. When he held it up, he could see it was a rabbit’s foot.  He stuck it in his pocket and ran the rest of the way to the store.

Oh, I hope, I hope, I hope it’s still open, he sang in his head. He rounded the corner and saw the pharmacist just locking the door. Tucker ran up to him and out of breathe, blurted out that his mom was out of her medicine and needed it right away.

Tucker got tears in his tears as he thought of his mother. The pharmacist looked at his car in the parking lot, and then back at Tucker’s sad face. He nodded and opened the door back up.

Wow, Tucker thought, wiping his face. That was really lucky.

Tucker waited patiently while the pharmacist counted out each pill. He answered his questions politely, but wished he would hurry. With a quick swipe of his hand, the pharmacist emptied the pills into the brown bottle and slapped the label on. The pharmacist handed the bottle to Tucker, who handed him a 5.

“My drawer is already closed and you have a little change coming. Why don’t you just picked out anything you want from the candy aisle?”

Tucker shook his head. “I have to get home,” he said impatiently. But the pharmacist grabbed a paper sack and a handful of penny candy. “You don’t have to tell your father. It will be our secret,” he told Tucker with a wink.

Tucker nodded and thanked him and then ran all the way home. He panicked when he saw his Aunt Maggie in the doorway.

“What’s the matter?” he asked, pushing his way past her.

Maggie laughed with delight. “It’s okay, Tucker. Your mom’s fever broke! She’s going to be okay!”

She grabbed Tucker and hugged him tight. Tucker looked over at his mother, who that morning, couldn’t even lift her head off the pillow.

“Mom? Really? You’re better?”

“Yes, Honey. A little weak, but I feel really good.”

She smiled at him and opened her arms for him to come join her. He laid next to her for a moment, looking at the tattered blanket she used to wrap around herself. Then he looked down at his jeans, which had been darned so many times they were frayed.

“Mom, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a million dollars? Then we’d never have to worry about money again!”

His mom pulled him close and said,  “Oh, Tucker, I don’t need a lot of money. I have my health back and I have you and your dad. I don’t need anything more than that.”

She looked around room at the table, the two chairs, and the little bed where Tucker slept. “I guess it would be nice to have a little money,” she said. “Your dad’s been off work so long… But maybe someday we won’t have to worry about money.”

Tucker felt the rabbit’s foot in his pocket. He smiled and gave him mother a kiss. He sat on the stoop outside and took out the rabbit’s foot. There wasn’t anything special about it. It was just like the one he saw for sale at the 5 & 10 for 50 cents.

He rubbed it. It was soft, except for the claws at the end.

“I wish we were rich!” he said enthusiastically. He rubbed the foot until it felt warm in his hands, and then put the foot back in his pocket.

It wasn’t long before he saw his dad walking up the sidewalk.

He lifted Tucker up high above him, laughing with delight. “I’m so happy to see you!”

“Mom’s feeling better, Dad!”

“She is? That’s wonderful news! I have some good news, too. Let’s go in an see her!”

Tucker’s dad sat him down on the edge of the bed next to his mom. “Do you remember that invention I have been working on the past few years?”

Tucker and his mom both nodded.

“Well, the strangest thing just happened to me. I was standing in line at the patent office when a man in a suit came up to me and asked what kind of invention I was going to patent. I told him all about the Maxter2000, and he loved it! He signed me on with his company right on the spot. And guess what? They’re going to pay me $1,000,000 for it! Could we get any luckier?”

Tucker smiled at his mom and dad and gripped the rabbit’s foot tight. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”









Challenge #10-A letter to my future self

I’ve thought a lot about my future recently, so fulfilling Challenge 10 should be a snap. It’s asking me to write a letter to my future self. If you look back, my very first blog post was a letter to my younger self, which only reinforced what I had learned since then. The message I received and do my best to pass on is, “It does get better.” Life can be very hard when you’re just starting out. And sometimes you feel so overwhelmed you make impulsive and unhealthy choices. But that’s okay, that’s how we learn.writing challenge10

Dear Cindy,

I’m can’t imagine my life being any better than it already is, but I suppose there’s always room for improvement. A few things you should remember, though, for when your memory starts to go the wayside are:

-Don’t forget where you came from. It’s easy for me to say now that I won’t forget what it took for me to get here, but I know from experience that we tend to relax, get comfortable, and rest on our laurels.

-Be nice, even when people are grouchy. Remember what it was like to be their age. Life’s hard. The only reason it’s easier for us is that we’ve lived through it. We know what happens. We went through hell and lived to tell about it. Not that anyone will listen.

-Don’t turn into a crotchety old lady, who no one wants to be around. Some people play the victim thinking it gives them the attention they seek, but that’s not true. People lose respect for you and avoid you.

-Remember that you don’t have to do what people want you too all the time. Doing too much for people might be keeping them from learning the lessons they need to learn to move forward.

-Don’t resent the people who have busy lives. If your kids and grandkids can’t come to visit, don’t take it personal. Besides, I think when people are too dependent on you, it will be harder for them when you leave.

-Find a hobby you love so you aren’t just sitting around. Just because you can’t do things you used to do doesn’t mean you still can’t contribute. And when you retire, don’t give up. Get out and enjoy life.

No one knows what the future holds. And maybe I don’t want to know. That might take all the fun out of it.




Challenge # 9-Not your typical love story

Challenge #9 has me writing a love story.  I’ve read countless love stories. I’ve listened to love songs until I’m ready to puke. I have watched movies about love and cried myself to sleep over love. I’ve even dreamed about love. And just when I was about ready to give up on finding true love, I found something better. Real love isn’t that feeling that we hear about or read about or dream about. It’s a natural kind of comfortable feeling that just seems to fit. When it happens, you just know, even if it takes a little while to realize that’s what it is. True love is something you can’t explain. It’s something you feel. writing challenge9

A Real Love Story

Ben was a boy who lived on the farm across the field from us. He was scrawny and always dirty and annoying. But we’d been friends since I was 4 years old. He was my only friend, really.  The next farm beyond the Gable’s was 10 miles away and we didn’t own a car. Many people didn’t have cars back then. It was 1938 and money was scarce.

But as annoying as Benji was, life would have been boring without him. He taught me how to catch rabbits, using only a wire, and how to light a fire without any smoke, just like the Indians did. We’d go swimming and fishing in the summer, and ice skating and sledding in the winter. His older brother teased him terribly and he’d run away from home at least once a week. I was lucky, I guess. Ma and Pop were told they couldn’t have kids and I was a miracle baby. But with no brothers and sisters, I was alone a lot.

When I was 13, I got sick with the flu really bad. Benji wouldn’t listen to his Ma when she told him not to come visit me. He did anyway and ended up almost dying from it. My mom got sick, too, but she didn’t make it. I had to go stay with my Aunt Millie and Uncle Roger for the summer. It was nice having a family, but I missed my Ma.

It was almost time to start school again when I got home. Everything was different. I didn’t feel like a little girl anymore. Pop changed, too. He didn’t smile as much and work more than he did before. Every time I tried talking to him about Ma, he got real quiet and sometimes, he just walked away, like he couldn’t bear to hear her name. I think he blamed me for her dying.

Benji and I drifted apart after that. He became bothersome and wanted to do boy things all the time. I started hiding every time he came over or made excuses to make him leave.

Pop finally bought an old truck and fixed it up. Sometimes he let me go to town with him. If he had extra money, he’d buy me a soda. Every once in a while my friends would be at the diner and pop let me go sit with them while I drank my soda.  My friends knew Benji lived next door to me and teased me a lot about him. It didn’t bother me until Patty asked me if I was going to marry him.

“Heck no!” I told her. “I don’t have time for farm boys. I’m gonna marry a rich man, with a good job, and he’s gonna take me far away from this stinkhole.” We laughed about it, but in my heart, I knew there was something terribly wrong.

Sometimes I would dream I was living in Chicago or New York, where I lived the life of a socialite. I was a famous designer, and wore the most beautiful clothes. My rich husband and I went to lots of parties and people stop and stared as we walked by.

Someday, that would be me, I thought. But not today.

I stood in the front yard and looked at the sun hanging low in the sky. It was getting late and I was wasting time. I grabbed the bucket of scraps and headed for the barn. Mitzy and Barney, the goats, met me half-way, their noses already in the bucket. “Shoo! ” I said, waving them away. “You’ll get yours soon enough.”

I ran to the barn, while the goats tried to keep up with me. I hurried and shut the door before they could get in. Champ, our horse, whinnied as I set the bucket down and got a scoop of oats from the bin. I poured the oats into the trough and threw some hay over the stall. He stuck his head over the top board so I could rub his forehead.

“Good boy,” I told him as he pulled away to start eating. I picked up the bucket as I clucked my tongue. I could hear the goats hitting the door with their tiny hooves.

I emptied some of the scraps into the trough as a little shadow came from under the tractor.

“It’s okay, Milo, you can come out.”

Milo was a pot-bellied pig we got from the Jensen’s up the road. They owed my dad money from a bad side of beef and couldn’t pay up.

“What’m I gonna do with that thing?” he told Al Jensen.

He shrugged and said, “Whatever you want.”

So Milo became my responsibility. He was scared to death of the goats and wouldn’t come out if they were around. I usually fed him before they got theirs.

I waited until Milo was done before I opened the door for the goats. He saw them coming and high-tailed it back to his spot under the tractor.

“What’s with the pig?” a voice came from behind me. I knew who it was even before I turned around.

I glanced around and saw Ben standing in the doorway in dirty overalls. He wasn’t wearing a shirt. His blond hair was messed up and he had a dirty face.

“What’s it to you?”

“Nothing, just never seen a scared pig before. Usually they’re chasin’ me.” He chuckled and hopped up on the top board of the stall. Champ ignored him and went on eating.

“I’m kind of busy, Benji,” I told him as I grabbed the bucket. “I still have chores to do.”

He became silent for a moment before saying something I’ll never forget.

“How come we’re not friends anymore, Luc?”

“What’dya mean? We’re friends…”

“No, we’re not. You don’t ever wanna do anything with me anymore. We never go fishin’ or huntin’ or pickin’ berries anymore.”

“I don’t do that stuff anymore, Benji. I’m 15 now. I got better things to do.”

He didn’t say another word, but hopped off the wall and left the barn, letting the door slam shut. I walked to the corral and watched him as he walked the dirt path that led back to his farm. I was kind of hoping he’d look back so I could wave, but he didn’t. I almost ran to apologize.

We were still friends, weren’t we?

But I didn’t see Ben the rest of the summer. When school started in the fall, he was in home room, three rows ahead of me. He had cut his hair and washed his face, and actually looked pretty handsome with his farmer’s tan. But he acted like I didn’t exist. I saw him during lunch and was going to go talk to him, but Amelia grabbed my arm and made me sit with her.

Once, he glanced my way, but he was too quick and I lost my chance to make eye contact. This is ridiculous, I thought, and made an effort to get on the bus early just so I could talk to him.

I plopped in the seat next to him, loudly announcing my arrival. “What’s your problem?” I demanded.

“I don’t have a problem,” he replied calmly. He stared straight ahead.

“Then why won’t you even look at me? I thought we were friends.”

He turned and glared at me. “You made it perfectly clear that we weren’t.”

“I never said that, Benji. All I said was that I didn’t do any of that tomboy stuff anymore.”

“I’m not stupid, Lucy. I know how you really feel about me. And my name is Ben.”

I looked over and saw Norma Jean staring at us. She whispered something to Krissie and they both giggled.

I got up and moved to the back of the bus, trying to hide my embarrassment. Norma Jean immediately jumped up and sat next to Ben. I could hear the excitement in her voice as she asked him to her Sweet 16 party that Saturday.

“And you can be my date,” she told him in her high and prissy voice. She was the kind of girl all the boys loved, and the rest of the girls secretly hated. Her perfect hair, expensive clothes, and sophisticated makeup made the rest of us look like rag-a-muffins.

“Don’t let her upset you,” Amelia whispered to me.

“I’m not,” I lied. “I just can’t believe she asked him to her party. And as her date! He’s a nobody. Why would she ask him?”

“I think someone’s jealous,” Kitty sang from behind us. I wheeled around her and glared at her. I was furious! How dare she insinuate I was jealous! I turned around and rode the rest of the way without a word.

But I had time to think as I walked the long road to the house. Why was I so upset? Who cared if he went to the party as Norma’s date? It was then that I realized it was because we weren’t friends. Yes, he was dirty and messy and a pest sometimes. Seeing him today looking so grown up kind of changed my views about him.

I didn’t feel like doing chores and it took me longer than normal. I knew Pop would be expecting dinner on time, too. Since Ma died last year, he expected a lot more from me; cooking, cleaning, and chores, too.  But it was getting old. I needed to get out of here. I’d already saved enough money for a bus ticket to Crawson’s Creek. I just needed to finish school first.

Dinner was more quiet than normal. Pop didn’t finish his dinner and I didn’t ask why. He started going out to the field and saw an opportunity to ask him about the party.

“A party, huh? What kind of party?” he asked suspiciously.

“A birthday party … for one of my friends.”

“Will there be boys at this party?” He folded his arms across his chest. Not a good sign.

“Pop, I’m 15 1/2. Yes, there will be boys. But Norma Jean’s folks will be chaperoning.”

He grabbed his hat and walked out the door. “I’ll think about it,” he called back to me.

I washed the dishes and went upstairs to do my homework. I looked out my window at the Gable’s farm across the field. Though the sun was setting, I could see Ben checking fences on horseback. His dad had been killed in the war, and Ben and his 3 brothers helped their mother with the farm. Come to think of it,I hadn’t seen much of her since spring.

Benji and I used to check fences together. He’d take one side and I’d take the other, and we’d meet in the middle. Then we’d take the horses to Monument and looked out over the fields. We’d sit and wait for the stars to come out and watch for the shooting stars to streak across the sky. Make a wish, he’d tell me, even if it was his star.

I heard Pop swearing at the goats as they got in his way back to the house. I went downstairs to get more kerosene and met him in the hallway.

“Be home by 10,” was all he said, as he started to climb the stairs to his room.  I wheeled around and ran to him, throwing my arms around his middle.

“Thanks, Pop!” I gushed.

“I know, you need to get out more … spend time with yer friends. Are you gonna need a dress or something?” He looked into my eyes with sincerity.

I smiled sweetly and shook my head. “I was gonna use of one Ma’s and make some alterations.” I was pretty good with a needle and thread.

“Aw’right. Don’t stay up too late,” he said, climbing the stairs.

To be continued ….

I have to stop here because I have a feeling it’s going to take longer than I have to finish my challenges. But stay tuned. I plan on finishing it.
























Challenge #8-Writer’s Choice

My 8th Challenge states I can write about anything I want. So I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about my life.writing challenge8

I am 52 years old and have lived in Cedar Rapids my entire life, except for a couple of months when I visited Colorado and Tennessee to do a little “exploring.”

I have 3 daughters, and a son, my youngest, who has a developmental disability. He is autistic and diagnosed with ADHD, which made it difficult for him to learn how to read or write. The doctors told us at one time that they doubted he would be able to live on his own, but because stubbornness and determination runs in our family, we proved them wrong.

I did my best to teach him how to be responsible and pay his bills and take care of other business, but the rest is up to him. He is so smart about somethings but oblivious to others. His autism makes him socially-awkward, and it takes most people time to warm up to him.

Last year, Sean met Ashley. She is a nice person with a good heart, and I am very happy they found each other. They are getting married Aug. 15, and though it seems as though they are the perfect fit, they will have a lot of challenges to overcome.  Sean has a hard time keeping a job because of his disability, and she will just have to either accept it, or not.

My middle daughter, Caryn, just moved to Chesapeake, Virginia, with her husband and 4 children. This is the first time anyone in our little family has moved more than 20 miles from home. I was happy for them when they moved because it’s a chance to finally get ahead, but I miss them.Last night I was able to Skype successfully for the first time, and it made me feel a little closer to them. Caryn is having a tough time being so far from home, but I know once she starts her new job, she will be too busy to miss us.

My other two daughters, Holly and Lori, live in town. I get to see them and my other five grandchildren pretty regularly, which is a wonderful thing because spending time with my family is one of my favorite things to do.

I have three jobs. I work full-time as a receptionist/office administrator at McGrath’s Dodge car dealership. I am a program assistant for Cedar Rapids Main Street (an organization that helps preserve the historical district in CR), and work for Metro Sports Report, an online sports magazine, as a web editor.

I’ve had to cut my night hours back dramatically, which has help my stress level, but I’m still finding that I don’t have time to do everything I want. I guess it’s all about priorities.

I’ve published three books on CreateSpace, a self-publishing company. Between Worlds, my first, is a 3-book teen sci-fi series. I came across CreateSpace by accident and wanted to experience the life of a published author. (It’s quite a thrill to hold your own book in your hands for the first time!)

I am working on my third and final book in the series, which has been more difficult than the first two. I love the way my character, Mya, has developed since I began the book, one of the reasons I want to continue writing books.

I also compiled my family’s recipes in a cookbook, which I gave the title,  Homemade in the Heartland. I have always loved to cook, and when my daughters started asking me to write my recipes down, the book took on a life of its own.

I live with my mother, who is homebound. She only leaves the house to go to the doctor. I stay with her because the only other option would be have her go to a nursing home and I don’t want her to have to do that. I want to help make the rest of her life as comfortable as I can, and I think that is by staying with her. If there ever comes  a day when a nursing home is the only choice, I think she will already understand that.

I love my life. It’s not perfect, but it wasn’t meant to be. I am grateful and content and live a life where I am at peace, even when the world around me is in chaos. To me, that equals happiness.

The journey I’ve taken to get here wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it. But that’s another story.

Challenge #7-Iowa State Fair, a poem

Challenge #7 requires that I write  poem. Honestly, I have never been that great at writing poems, but I’ll give it my best shot. You’ve been warned.writing challenge7

Iowa State Fair

The smells, the sounds, the livestock shows;
The crowds as they rush through the gates;
welcome to the fair of all fairs;
only in Iowa state.

Cotton candy and food on a stick,
are just a few of the delights,
frozen lemonade and deep-fried desserts,
take temptation to whole new heights!

Crowds are entertained by well-knowns, too,
the Grandstand is the place to be;
Def Leppard and The Fray will rock the grounds,
While Carrie and Reba sing a little bit coun-try.

The rides, the food, the fun,the heat;
it all goes hand-in-hand,
And if you travel to the fair this year,
Make sure you see one of these bands.

And don’t forget the Butter Cow,
it’s really a sight to see;
Just one of the many attractions you’ll find,
During the week of Aug. 13.

I know. Not my best. It could very well be my worst. But then, I never said I was good at writing poems.

In any case, take a minute to check out our annual state fair on one of the links. As far as fairs go, it’s pretty standard, but for me, it brings back memories of hot, sticky days when we would seek out the shade. But just for a minute-then we’d be off, seeking out all the excitement the fair had to offer. And now they have deep-fried Milky Ways. Could life get any better?




Challenge #6-My Best Friend

Writing about how I feel about someone sounds easy, but I think my sixth challenge might be the writing challenge6hardest yet.  Feelings don’t always translate well in words. Some of the meaning is lost when you try to describe your innermost feelings. I think the trick to writing about feelings is to write in a way that will have most people walking away from the story thinking, “Yeah, I’ve been there…I know how she feels.”

Jeff and I met five years ago, but I feel like I have known him my entire life. He’s my partner, my teacher, my confidant, and my shoulder to cry on.

He’s my best friend.

Jeff makes me feel like I’m the most important person in the world. And for someone like me, who often lacks self-confidence, having someone accept you the way you are and loving you just because you’re you, it’s your very own happily-ever-after.

From the moment I met him, I knew we were destined to be best friends.  It could have been the rose he held in his hand as he walked through the door of the restaurant or the way he held the door open for me. Maybe it was his positive attitude about life or the way his eyes sparkled when he laughed.

But I think it was because he made me feel like I mattered. From the very beginning, he hung on my every word and was genuinely interested in what I had to say.  He made me feel like I was the most important person in the world.

And he still does.

Jeff and I have the kind of friendship that comes only once in a lifetime. We share something that goes beyond understanding, that goes beyond words. We don’t even have to explain how we feel because we already know.

And to him, I am important. Who could ask for anything more?










Challenge #5-A letter to my dad

My fifth project in this writing challenge is to write a letter to anyone. As many of my readers know, my dad passed away Sept. 6, 2008, and though I knew the man for my entire life, I didn’t know him. A few years after he died, I came across his life story. I wasn’t looking, but somehow I found it. Maybe the universe wanted me to find it so I could better understand my father and his crazy life. I do now.

Dear Dad,

It’s been almost 7 years since you went away. And as you might have expected, life has continued on. Every once in a while I’ll see or hear something that reminds me of you and I pause to remember your face, your walk, or the aroma of Old Spice that permeated the air around you.writing challenge5

The grandkids talk about you often and remember how you gave them candy and ice cream all the time. They tell their kids stories about you, and once in a while, I’ll look into their faces and see you there.

I found your life story a few years after you died. It was scattered in several boxes, but I found all the parts and was able to piece it all together. I learned a lot about your life that I didn’t know, such as your family’s move to Beloit when you were 2, and how Grandpa Meis was a butcher before he became a store owner. But what struck me most about your stories was your ability to capture a memory with words.

One of my favorite stories is the one about the rag man and his cart. It took my breath away. I was caught up in the moment, watching the little boy as he played in the alley dirt. I heard the creaking of the wheels, the clomping of the horse’s hooves as they hit the hard ground, the swish of its tail as it swatted the flies away. I could smell the sweet summer air and feel the light breeze on my face.

I didn’t just read your story; I relived your childhood memory.

It was then that I realized how much I wanted to write like you. I want to be able to write so the reader walks away with the same feeling your stories gave me. Your stories inspired me to become a better writer.

I miss you, Dad. I wish I would have talked to you more when you were alive. I would have asked to read your stories and maybe we would have talked about what life meant to you.  I wish I would have known the man, as well as the father.

But I think the reason I didn’t ask was because I was mad at you, which didn’t occur to me until after you died. I resented you for not being the father I thought you should be. I wouldn’t let myself see anything but the expectations I had for you. I put a wall between us that I thought was saving me from being hurt, but what it did was prevent me from getting to know you as a human being. I know now that you did the best you could with what you had.  I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, and now it’s too late to do anything about it.

If I could, I would tell you that I’m sorry and I love you, but I hope in your heart you already knew it.

You have given me so many wonderful gifts, and though I feel like I haven’t given you much in return, what I can do is live how you taught me to live; to treat others with kindness and compassion; to be honest and generous; to have faith in God, help others in need, and do what I can to make the world a better place.

I’m reminded of a quote I saw recently: “Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day.” That’s how I feel, too, because even though I miss you, I know you are still here with us, in spirit.

Love, your daughter,