The Dash and the Comma

Have you noticed that for each person you know, each of them has a favorite topic for discussion? One wants to talk about politics. Another is deeply moved by personal finance. Some need to talk about family relationships. Other things do come up during the discussion, but it always feels like we’re circling around what it is they really care about.

"Clare"

“Clare”

For my friend “Clare” the topic is religion. Fortunately, I love talking religion, especially with her. I am a novice. She’s a pro. There is so much for me to learn, especially when I’m trying to explain how I feel. At our last meeting, for her father’s funeral, we talked about “the dash.” The summary of a person’s life chiseled into a tombstone. You’ve seen it.

1927-2016

That’s more than eighty years reduced to a single mark in a stone. It’s up to us to fill in that tiny space with our understanding of a lifetime.

As the talk moved on I related that every time I recite the Creed during a church service, I am reminded of “the dash.” Except that it’s a comma. An entire life reduced to a comma. A life that changed my life, and the life of the world. Where’s that comma, you ask?

“… born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate.” (Apostles’ Creed)

Did you catch the comma? That little mark? Thirty three years represented by a simple comma.  The comma wasn’t even invented until hundreds of years after the person in question lived his life between birth and death. Yet a comma represents everything but the first day and the last days of that life. Continue reading

Why do I do this?

1973 Masters Thesis

One of the treasures from the attic

Sometime earlier this year someone pulled up a page from my blog and read it. Not that unusual. A few of my friends and family members do look at the blog now and then. If I were into marketing and paying attention, it could have been a big day for me. On that special day WordPress served up the 10,000th page view for GrandPa Guy’s Stories.

On most days I’d brush off a number like that, saying it doesn’t matter. I don’t check the statistics all that often, so I was several hundred page views late in seeing the milestone pass. Several more days passed before I actually thought about what that meant. Last month a friend sent an email thanking me for a post that struck a chord with her. That morning I made a difference.

You don’t suppose that’s happened other days, too? Out of those 10,000 page views, maybe a few other of my musings have given a friend pause, let them think a thought out of their daily trance? One day in church a friend whom I hadn’t seen in about a year (We’re both C&Es at this church.) stopped me to thank me for my blog posts. I had no idea she was reading them, so was pleased to hear that they were good for her. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that my two month break in writing would start within the week.

When I started writing the blog two years ago I wanted to make it easier for my family to remember some of the stories from our shared past. The real reason has become clear as I continue to write these old stories. Part of writing old stories involves digging around in the boxes from the attic. You know those boxes. They moved into your house years ago and you haven’t opened them since.

I opened them. Treasure! Continue reading

Did you miss me?

Grandpa Guy

Grandpa Guy

More precisely, I missed sharing my story with you. But I needed a break. Cancer got in the way. (Now totally resolved). Holidays got in the way. (Is another coming?) A vacation got in the way. (Another trip of a lifetime.) Given all that was happening, I just needed a break. Since writing a blog doesn’t pay much, I figured a time out would be easy.

Everything that got in my way this year is now behind me and I’ve started writing again. This morning when an idea popped into my head and I sat down to type out the story it felt good. Writing is the strangest hobby. None of my friends seem to enjoy it. They’re into fishing, boating, biking, shooting, politics, golfing, music, arts, skiing, television, and the like. I write, among other things, but writing gives me the most energy.

Since we returned from vacation I’ve been accumulating new stories and reviewing things written last year. There’s some good stuff and a few clunkers. After my filter gets done with them, you can decide how many clunkers got through. Watch for some new stories soon. I’ll share some stories from familiar people and relate how what they did fifty years ago relates to today.

It’s good to be back. I hope some of these stories keep you coming back.

Let’s do coffee. Soon.

Grandpa Guy Havelick