This is a Wild Writing piece inspired by the poem, Permission Granted, by David Allen Sullivan.
Yes, you have permission to refuse the rest of the red velvet cake your Mother wants you to pack up and take with you on your 300-mile drive back home. Yes, you can also refuse to take the brownies that she’s made, even though she tells you with some urgency that you’ll get Alzheimers if you don’t eat sugar. No, she’s not really worried that you’ll get Alzheimers, but yes, she’s super bummed that you’re sticking her with the cake.
It’s 6:30 in the morning and you’re standing in her kitchen in Los Angeles – the same kitchen you had your whole childhood – the one with the black and yellow tile that sits below a shady grove of eucalyptus trees. This morning she’s wearing the short, black and white polka dotted nightie that you bought her for Christmas. “Sexy,” she’d said, turning toward her 82-year-old boyfriend Ralph when she unwrapped it a few days ago.
When you drive away from her house 30 minutes later, your blond teenage daughters are like sleepy puppies on pillows in the back seat. Mom will be standing at the front door in her short, polka dotted nightie, Ralph towering over her wearing your Dad’s pajamas, both of them waving your car goodbye.
No, you did not take the cake. No, you did not take the brownies. Yes, you got over the fact that your Mother’s boyfriend wears your Father’s pajamas. Yes, they were practically new when your Father died. Yes, I loved feeding my Father in bed that last month, my spoon of oatmeal shakily edging toward his lips. Yes, I thought food would keep him alive. Yes, I thought I had magical powers and that if I stayed by his bed he wouldn’t die. Yes, I mean no, I mean yes, I knew he loved me and no, it didn’t feel like enough love at the end.
Yes, I went into my Mother’s garage on this last trip to see if there was anything I could steal. Yes, everything felt abandoned and coated in dirt. Spider webs everywhere, framed paintings stacked against the wall, the shelves full of architecture magazines nobody knows what to do with, boxes of books nobody wants to read, medical supplies that were supposed to keep somebody alive. Yes, I haunt these rooms full of our things – opening drawers, leafing through piles, looking for something and nothing in particular, junk that will soon be tossed, but which tethers me to the past, something I might bring home so I don’t forget, how soon we forget. Permission granted.
Love this, thank you. And thanks for keeping me in touch via your website. I’d love to do a retreat one day when time allows. Back on writers.com so writing a little bit again. All the best!!
Gina! Just knowing you’re out there brings a smile to my face. Our paths will cross again soon! xxx
What a lovely post…”yes and no”, “velvet cake”, “polka dotted nightie”…feeding your dying father oatmeal-as always, you pack it in, life’s jucy, messy, delightful moments, with talent and truth. Lucky us.
Such a beautiful piece. I feel it all. Love reading your words out loud to myself, Laurie. Thank you!
Lillie…miss you xxxx
I LOVE this. I felt so much in that short story. I feel like a took a long trip. Amazing what words can do. Just beautiful.
oh thank you – – it feels so good to share them.
love this Laurie…so much juicy goodness.
Well honey, what can I say. I see it so clearly, I hear her so clearly through you. I laughed
and felt sad at the same time. Bushels of love to you and the “girls”.
oh you…it’s so nice to have someone who knows the voice, can see the people…means the world. Love love love you
I never ever ever ever get enough of your writing. LOVE this slice of life. Your beautiful beautiful life. xo
you said it doll, “beautiful life.”
damn, I love how you write. Just sayin’.
maya maya maya maya maya maya xxxxx
Life. A beautiful mess. Humor and fistfuls of tears. Dust-coated memories and stolen pajamas. You write it so well, Laurie. So incredibly well.
a beautiful mess – – yes – yes – yes – and love xxxxx
Love love love. I am speechless. xxxooo
Laurie, I loved this. You write so vividly and I feel so at home when I read your stories. You inspire me. I am just going to do the great writing prompt about the ‘boots’. Thanks for you!
Hi Laurie, I followed a friends’ link over here to your site. I asked her about the writing she was doing and she told me it was a class you were teaching that had lit her inspired fire! I loved this piece you wrote and thank you for sharing it with us. I hope to take your upcoming “Telling True Stories” online class… I’m saving up! I’ve also subscribed to updates from you so I don’t lose contact with you.
Hugs for now,
wonderful Beth – – I’m so glad you found me!
Thank you so much for posting this. Such a moving piece to read, Laurie. My dad is ill and I find myself drawn to hearing stories of loss — how people coped with the loss of their parents, how they loved, and how they held that love, how they expressed themselves, how they lived through the loss. Thank you.
so nice to hear from you – so glad my words helped you feel yours. The death of a parent – – not easy. Sending love,xxx
What a wonderful response to my poem! Thanks for posting it where I got a chance to read it. Love how a personal insight ripples out to others. David
What a marvelous response! Nice to see something I wrote resonating with others. David Allen Sullivan