Posted in Life, Writing

A Father’s Gifts

I’m thankful that I have a father in my life, and I’m extremely thankful to have one as fun and unique and loving as my dad.

My dad has given me so many things: love, support, laughter, poetry books, one-of-a-kind Halloween-birthday parties, and road trips, to name a few. He gave me my nose (slightly crooked like his) and my ability to snore (thanks, Dad). He coached my softball team, attended all my band concerts, taught me to drive, and let me have the puppy I asked for without even checking with Mom first. (It’s ok, she loved the puppy too.)

My dad was the first person to read my whole novel. He stayed up most of the night to finish it. I woke up the next morning to find the manuscript sitting on the kitchen table with a sticky note that said, “Loved it.” You can bet that made me feel good.

While pets and sports and birthday parties are not unusual father/daughter activities, my dad has also given me a few gifts over the years that aren’t quite so common.

Made With Love

Some of the coolest things my dad has given me are his stories and his artwork, which are kind of the same thing. His stories paint vivid pictures and his artwork definitely tells tales, sometimes literally. I have four binders full of the mail he sent me in college, each letter inside an envelope covered with his ink and watercolor drawings, many depicting funny family moments. And I have a computer file full of his life stories, emailed to me in pieces over the past seven years.

To see some of his artwork envelopes and read one of his stories (about chickens), visit this Father’s Day post from four years ago.

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A snippet from one of his painted envelopes, depicting a classic dad moment

Dad also likes to make things. I have a beautiful and very sturdy (read “extremely heavy”) bookcase that he built for me in college and a walking stick that he carved and varnished with his own two hands. I also have several homemade Halloween decorations including this awesome haunted birdhouse he gave me for my birthday in 2014.

Build a nest if you DARE, little birdies!
Build a nest if you DARE, little birdies!

Stories and drawings and homemade crafts still aren’t too far outside the norm, when it comes to presents, but a few of my father’s gifts have been truly weird.

People Say I Have My Father’s Eyes… They’re Half Right

About fifteen years ago, my dad gave me a coin purse made out of a frog. You heard me.

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Several months ago, my dad gave me an Aztec figurine, found in Mexico decades ago and given to him by a friend. It resides in this plastic container because, three times when I’ve picked it up, it has shot an electric pain into my thumb for reasons I can’t explain. I’m not kidding.

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And recently, my dad gave me his glass eye. Well, not HIS glass eye. It’s the glass eye that he’s had since I was a kid, the one he took out of the lost and found at his work after it had been there for years. I’m assuming he washed it at some point. (Note: His real eyes, like mine, are hazel. This one is brown.) Anyway, now it’s mine.

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Weird? Yes. Totally. TOO weird? No. Not at all. You see, my dad knows me. He probably knew that I would keep that frog purse in my classroom and find delight in shocking my students with it. He probably knew that the cool (and also creepy) Aztec figurine would end up in one of my horror stories. (Draft still in progress.) He probably knew that every time I looked at the glass eye, I would think about how he sometimes used to clasp his hands over his face and stagger around, complaining that he had something in his eye before finally saying, “I think I got it,” and opening his fingers to reveal… the glass eye resting in his palm. And he knew that would make me smile.

I love my father’s gifts. All of them. And I love him.

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Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you! 🙂

 

Posted in Life, Poetry, Reading, Writing

A Mother’s Gift

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Last November, I attended the Poetry Society of Texas Annual Awards Banquet, where two of my poems took home first place prizes. The banquet was lovely, the food was good, the poems were wonderful, and of course I was excited about my prizes, but the best part about the whole thing was that my mom was there with me. She was my date. 🙂

My mom is the best. She’s been an integral part of my life as a reader and writer. She read to me when I was little, taking me to the public library to check out every Dorrie the Little Witch book they had, over and over again. Even when I got older and could read on my own, I still preferred reading stories with her. One of my favorite memories is us sitting side by side in my twin bed, giggling our way through the Bunnicula books.

My mom has always been a reader. Mysteries are her favorite, but these days she also reads a lot of middle grade and young adult novels. My whole family read the Harry Potter series as it was published and loved to talk to each other about the books. Now we’re doing the same thing with the Lockwood & Co. series. My mom read the first two before I did and kept telling me how good they were. She was right. Now we get to experience those hilarious and spooky tales together and ponder the cliffhanger endings. I love being able to talk about books with her.

And now, I love being able to talk about writing with her.

Some moms might have second thoughts about their daughters quitting their careers to write. Maybe my mom did too, but if so she never showed it. She’s been excited about and supportive of my writing adventure from the very beginning. Even when I started writing horror, which is not her favorite, she still kept her chin up, learning to accept (if not embrace) the fact that her little girl sometimes writes dark things. Lately though, my mom has become more than just a supportive presence hovering outside the crazy sphere of publishing and marketing and querying. Lately, as I’ve explained more and more of the process to her, she’s become a real ally, asking me now and then how my agent search is going and telling me how proud she is of me and all I’ve learned. She’s read all my published work, as well as my middle grade manuscript. She loved the book, which of course feels pretty awesome. 🙂 My mom feels like a traveling companion on my writing journey now, and I love that too.

Having someone as loving and supportive as my mom on my side is invaluable. That’s why I took her to the PST banquet with me. And that’s why, when the anthology of PST poems including my two winners arrived in my mailbox this week, I sent it straight to her, for Mother’s Day.

I love you, Mom! Thank you for everything.

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Posted in Poetry

Marriage

In honor of our five-year anniversary, today I’m sharing a little poem dedicated to my wonderful husband.

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Marriage

This morning
I found an owl feather—
beautiful, delicateOwl4
a symbol of wisdom
and joy.

I placed it
on your desk
as a gift

because I love you.

Later this morning
I walked by your desk—
the owl feather was gone,
replaced by a pile
of cat vomit.

I cleaned it up
and threw it away
as a gift

because I love you.

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© Carie Juettner, 2015