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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

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's Laughably Unbelievable But True

Last fall, I mentioned that my siblings and I have been having scheduled "work days" at the old homestead (the one not yet built in this "Unsettled" story). Yesterday was such a day. We hauled a queen sofa hide-a-bed from a bedroom that had become a study (had to take the sofa and the door jamb apart to wrestle it out, a process my brother Dave remembered doing about ten years ago when he put it in there). Did all kinds of other moving an cleaning. Through these days of work and the months in between them, the tasks have somehow moved from the kind of grief that makes you seek a place to be alone and cry for ten minutes to a sort of "sibling fun" in a "whistle while you work" way. I say this because, the last time we met (day before Thanksgiving) there was far less laughter than I heard erupting from attic to garage yesterday. It was a blessing to be together.

Our next gathering is the estate sale.

Some of the laughter in the house yesterday came from "stories" being remembered and shared again. Both Mom and Dad were good biographical story tellers, and as they say, "the acorns don't fall far from the tree." We all enjoy re-living the stories of our shared life, which I pay particular attention to (always searching for additional chapters). It should come as no surprise that sometimes stories I've shared hear come up, and my siblings add detail and perspective that one mind alone cannot store. Sometimes the small details don't quite jibe, but "memory" is a funny thing. Though I do take notice when dates or plotlines seem blurry, I remind myself that mere facts are not the "construct" of a good story. The heart of narrative comes as much from the "squeezed out" telling over time as from the absorption at the time.

That being said, it's also true that facts are the framework of fleshed-out tales, and I do make every effort to be accurate as I recreated these events. Sometimes after remembering details or hearing stories again from those who lived them with me in first person, I go back and revise a chapter--I trust for the better. Sometimes the revised version may seem laughably unbelievable, but I assure you it is true. Here is an example from Chapter 23-B:

You can imagine the mess in our room when that settled down. We didn't have dust bunnies under our beds; we had herds of "dust buffalo" roaming across the hardwood range in search of stray underwear to call home. When Mom dust-mopped the floor, there was no telling what she'd find in the fuzzy blobs that lurked in the dark corners.
Once during an indoor game of "hide and seek," Dave and I made the mistake of hiding under our beds. The good news was no one found us; but the bad news was we came out looking like we'd been tarred-and-feathered (in dust buffalo); good news was we found our wadded bags of forgotten Halloween candy; bad news was it was March and that winter some mice had chewed all the chocolate off the Clark Bars; but the good news was some of the Bit-o-Honeys were still wrapped and tasted fine.

[It was the winter we had mice 'til one by one, following loud "snaps" from the kitchen in the night, they mysteriously disappeared. We had woke once in the night hearing mice under our beds, but Dave threw something under there, and it got quiet, so we went back to sleep. It wasn't until we found the Halloween candy that we realized what had caused that delicate nibbling sound in the night.]

Here's how it read before: "Sometimes during games of "hide and seek," one of us would make the mistake of hiding under our beds and come out looking tarred and feathered and chewing on a piece of lost Halloween candy from who knows when."
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