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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bringing Home the Duncan Phyfe Chapter 6-A

[I meant to include this before shifting gears in chapter 6-B .]

The morning after that first shared night in a hotel, my mother opened her eyes to the soft sliver of light that seeps through drawn curtains. She studied the valance at the top and liked how the room belonged together. The wallpaper seemed to match the bedspread, which matched the cushion on the little chair (that Dad did not prop against the door). She liked that the bathroom had a switch and not a string and especially that it was not shared. A deep breath of contentment filled her, but to her surprise, it came out in a sad sigh.
On the nightstand beside the bed was a phone she knew would never ring since no one knew where they were. This reminded her of a wish she'd been holding in since the waking hours of the day before. She did not know how to bring up the subject with her husband of less than two days, but lying there in that perfect moment gave her the courage to try.

Mom was homesick. For twenty years, her waking moments had been filled familiar sounds beyond her door. Even when she was grown and out of school, the elders of the house rose first to yawn in the mirror, fumbling through the blind patterns of life and the unwritten score of living. The dull rattle of cast iron pans; the squeak of the bathroom faucet; the tread of feet on the stair; and the tones of distant, disconnected conversation. All this was missing in that otherwise perfect moment. She'd never been homesick in her life because she had never been away from home. She took in another deep breath that stammered out like a child's silent sob.

"What's wrong, Bev." Dad whispered.

"Nothing...." she sighed again, shaking the bed ever so slightly with the trembling breath. Dad sat up and looked at her in the dim light.

"Well, something's wrong."

"No, it's not. I'm fine. Really." She looked up and tried to smile past her brimming eyes. "Don, If I promise to keep the phone call short, do you think I could call home when we get to Washington? Just for a minute. I want tell the folks we're fine and how nice everything is?"

"Is that all that's wrong? Are you sure? I don't know what the rates are from DC to Port Huron, but If you want to call home, I don't mind. You can do it right now if you want."

"No. I want to wait 'til we get there. That'll be even better."

Homesickness is as hard to explain as the feeling of home itself. It's a longing, a sort of hunger. But rather than an empty growl in the stomach it puts an aching lump in the throat. It hits everyone differently I suppose. For Dad it was a sense of uncertainty that he could replace Mom’s longing for home with a new feeling equally strong. It had not occurred to him to call home because the courtesy of such a call might make him feel less on his own, a feeling just as important to a man as feeling at home is to a woman. Newlywed men in that age (and at that age) sometimes struggled as they walked the fine line between indifference and independence.
Mom and Dad both called home that night. Mom's was the longer call.


Blogger Jody said...

I talked to my own mother-in-law earlier this week. She filled me in on some more wedding details and shared a few stories with me about her recent son's honeymoon in Hawaii. She said, "they called home every single day" and I asked them, "Don't you have anything better to do than to call home on your honeymoon?". I thought that was cute. I guess the young couple must have similar feelings to what you write of here...in Part 6. My own children will probably just send me a text message by the time they're off and married. If that's still around. =)

22/8/07 10:03 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

I know exactly how your Mom felt. I felt exactly the same way for the first several months of my married life. I was completely disoriented and extremely homesick. My husband and I moved to a small town on the mainland, across from Vancouver Island, and we had to take three ferries to get there. I felt so isolated. In a way it was good for us, though. But I still remember that feeling.

22/8/07 10:25 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

It seems like we called our folks once on our honeymoon 27 years ago. I didn't understand all this stuff then. I think our newlyweds (Keith and Em) feel very normal keeping in touch with both sides.
In my dad's case, I think his three older siblings were already married and he had been out of high school for over two years working fulltime at Bell Telephone, and even though he still lived at home, he was pretty ready to be "on his own." Mom wanted to be married but hadn't much experience at setting up house. There's more of that in the parts to come.

22/8/07 10:25 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

We must have just crossed paths in cyberspace.
When I hear about your life on Vancouver Island, it reminds me of PEI and "Ann of Green Gables." I can imagine how hard that adjustment was. It's a natural thing to go through, but Dad "as the man" felt like he had to hide those feelings at first. In time, they both proved to be "home bodies" and my siblings and I have the same tendency.

22/8/07 10:31 PM  
Blogger Tracie said...

I love this series Tom. I can hardly wait to read the rest!

I called my mom several times on my honeymoon. I had been on my own for a while so I wasn't really homesick but the feeling that I DID have felt the same as being homesick. Knowing that the two of us were now one so 'home' wasn't where my parents were but where Ben and I were going to make OUR home.

Looking forward to reading more!

22/8/07 10:36 PM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

I remember missing home after I got married. It always felt so good to come home.

I clicked your link to "the elders" to see what that was about. I share something in common with your mom...living with the extended family. We have had two of our daughters come back to live with us after they married.

In one case, our younger daughter and her husband fell on hard times financially. They and their two children lived with us for almost four years. It soon became three children. Then our older daughter was having problems with her husband. So, she and her three little boys came to live with us for a few months. This happened while our younger daughter and family were still living with us. On top of that, our son had just finished getting his Masters. So, he was back home too.

For a few months then we were six adults and six children living all together in the same household. We had two high chairs in the kitchen. We have a large house, thank God, but I am sure we were still breaking some city ordinance dealing with occupancy issues.

Now everyone is settled in each their own home and my husband and I are free to run naked through our house if we choose.

You have some nice descriptive phrases in this piece. I really liked it.

22/8/07 11:17 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

I like this portion Tom but I really have to say with all honesty, I have never been "homesick."

I left at 17 and with the exception of giving my mom a buyer for the old house at a fair price I never wanted to go back home and as long as the old lady and dog are with me now; I could move on out of here and never look back and the same with the next place and on and on.



23/8/07 4:18 AM  
Blogger ...Kat said...

You have a great thing going here POI
the stories the writing
I am enjoying immensely

23/8/07 7:47 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

And the story continues to be exciting as you keep the reader "hanging on"... I love it and so descriptive. I do think about our "newlyweds" as I read, knowing they have adjustments to make as well but probably of a different sort! I do hope my daughter misses home just a little but I am ready for her to have her wings and "fly"! Can't wait for more.

23/8/07 9:55 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Thanks for the good word. Folks if you want to see a very funny video of a little girl trying to say the 23rd Psalm by heart, click on her link and go to Wednesday's post. Funny and cute rolled into one!

I'm so glad you went back to that link. It helps you understand my mom's perspective and personality (and in a way my own if you go back to the link called Kept).
It sounds like you had some "bonding" years as an extended family. Now that I know the freedom you and your husband enjoy, Julie and I will be sure to phone ahead if we ever visit! Just kidding. I know exactly what you mean. Life is very different when "others" are in the house.

My mom especially likes to read the way we interact about these things. She is amazed that the common details of someone's life is of interest to others. Thank you for noticing details and tone, etc. That is important to me. I'm not very experienced with episodic writing so knowing that its "readable" and engaging is helpful.

I'm sure it is different for everyone. The fact that you left home at 17 and were in the Navy, etc. probably makes a difference, but actually the fact that "home" is where your love is (and the dog that killed the bear) is very much what a part of that "home feeling."

Glad you dropped by. Thanks for the encouraging word. It helps me want to keep writing.

As a parent of new newlyweds (as are we), perhaps you can read between the lines that the timing of my telling this story was probably prompted by the feelings of this summer and a gradual understanding that some things never change. It is that element of literature that draws us in, and to whatever extent I'm able to do that with these thoughts, I'm honored that people read and add their own insights. I cannot describe the dimension that "feedback" provides to works in progress but it is a blessing when it happens.
(Go look at that video at Tracie's blog. You'll get a kick out of it.)

23/8/07 2:51 PM  
Blogger HeiressChild said...

beautiful tom. every time i read a post of yours, i see something new and different about your writing. you have such a fine ear (because you're writing what you've been told) and a good writing style for detail. i feel joy in every word, and it makes for really good reading.

i still get homesick, but for my own home now. i love going away, but even before i leave, i'm already missing my home. when i come back from a trip, i always say, "there's no place like home, there's no place like home." sometimes, while i'm gone, i almost wish i could click my heels like dorothy and actually be back at home.

24/8/07 2:10 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I have always enjoyed writing, and envy those who find it easy. I've never quite thought of it as you put it, but I think you're right. Somewhere in the archives I've written--oh, I remember where it was...HERE-- that stories are an oral tradition and need a "voice." One of these days, I'm going to figure out how to connect an audio link to posts and try reading them. I think I would find that very rewarding.
But you're right, many of the stories I've heard many times and that gives them a tone. I hear them in my head; hear the sounds and voices from when they were told, which leaves only the task of getting those images and voices from my head to the page.

My little brother says when he reads these stories here (which really belong to all of us), he finds himself laughing at one sentence and crying at another... so he's very careful where he reads my blog.
I know what he means because writing about family tends to blow the dust of the old photo albums. Past and present blur, and time is laid bare on your lap.

24/8/07 6:22 AM  
Blogger Cris said...

You really have a gift for storytelling. You never seem to fail to keep my attention. Just the perfect amount of detail to not only keep the reader's interest, but to make them feel as if they know the people involved. I can't wait to read more.

24/8/07 11:59 AM  
Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

My dad, like me, uses the phone sparingly, and only to deliver a message--certainly not for conversation. Also, he refused to give up his rotary phone until the phone company started charging him more.

25/8/07 7:29 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Thank you very much. I can't wait either but unfortunately I haven't had any time to write today. The summer is officially winding down, and school starts for my teachers and me on Monday. Here in Michigan there is a law that all school districts follow. School does not start for students until the Tuesday after Labor Day. It's to help promote tourism, camping, boating, etc. all of which are Michigan's natural resources. We've been getting the camper ready for next weekend today.

I'm sitting here trying to remember the last time I heard the clickity-click of a rotary phone in my ear as I dialed. I'll bet it's been over 20 years. I remember "touch-tone" came out when I was in high school.

I'll never forget how cool that was. My childhood phone number was 771-7095. Every time I dialed it I then sang "doo-da...doo-da" because those seven numbers played the first notes of "Camptown ladies sing this song." Try it; it still works. (The song I mean... I have no idea who would answer the phone. =)

25/8/07 10:23 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

Tom, my wife wanted a rotary dial phone and like the dutiful love slave that I am; I set about to find one.

about 20 minutes on the internet found there is a man in PA who has all styles of them and he makes them "up to date" on the innards so you can use it on your "modern" phone line.

So we have one of the heavy black rotary phones in our house that works just fine for both incoming and outgoing calls but is pretty useless when you do not have a human on the line, because there is no touch tone to navigate the automated menPeace


26/8/07 5:29 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

DOH! menu


the proof reader

26/8/07 5:31 AM  
Blogger J_G said...

I've been homesick but it took me a while to notice it. Apparently I read too many recruiting posters and I joined the Navy to see the world. I did.

This is the fruits of my search Tom, sorry I cannot find the song to dowload anywhere. If you can find the song or have a copy of it I'll help you get it to play on your blog.

Hold Tight (Want Some Seafood, Mama)
The Andrews Sisters

Hold tight, hold tight, hold tight, hold tight
Want some sea food mama
Shrimpers and rice they're very nice
Hold tight, hold tight, hold tight, hold tight
Want some sea food mama
Steamers and sauce and then of course
I like oysters, lobsters too,
and I like my tasty butter fish
When I come home from work at night
I get my favorite dish, fish
Hold tight, hold tight, hold tight, hold tight
Want some sea food mama
Shrimpers and rice
They're very nice
They're very nice

26/8/07 6:09 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

That is so cool. I like the weight of those old phones. My dad worked for the Bell Telephone until he took early retirement. He was climbing poles and repairing home phones at the time of these stories. I bought an antique oak wall phone at an auction a couple years ago and took the guts of a new touch tone phone and put it in the empty space below the twenty pounds of magneto, etc. in the old unit. Now if the phone rings you can answer on that old phone (if you don't mind standing two feet from the phone--the old cords were short.)

Thanks for finding the lyrics. I did find a Youtube of the song, so when I need it in chapter 8 or 9, I'll just link to it so everyone gets the song in their head as that part of the plot thickens. =) Thanks for trying.

My Dad was in the Navy. (It was actually the Navy Reserves, but we never knew the difference as kids). We each had real sailor hats--you know the 1/4 inch thick cotton ones like Popeye wore... I still have mine. I know about homesickness from my first week-long camp experience in 4th grade. I was not ready for that. By Wednesday, I was like the kid in "Hello, Muddah." Then it hit me again my first year of college. There's times I still get it. When I went to Israel in '97 (gotta write about that sometime), I was away from my family for two weeks. I could not wait to get back to America, back to my family, and back in my own house. The chapter I was writing this morning and hope to post in a day or so is about their apartment.

We have to visualize the apartment to know why it needed a Duncan Phyfe. =)

26/8/07 8:26 PM  
Blogger Jody said...

I just enjoyed several unexpected laughs as I came back here to read through the comments. I can't help but think if there was a message board section or 'chat area' here at POI, most of us would be fast friends. =)
I will think of 771-7095 everytime I hear the music of Camptown Races from now on...all because of a comment about a rotary phone.
Which, by the way, are getting very 'popular' as they are considered "vintage" these days.

31/8/07 7:41 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I know what you mean. Some of the bloggers who read here have become friends (or maybe they were friends before they began blogging). I'm glad you bookended the beginning and end of this comment section. I must have missed you the first time. Sorry about that. We went camping up north for three days. It was great.

2/9/07 6:14 PM  

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