Family by Al McDermid

The last time I saw my only brother, he was spitting mad, but refused to discuss it; the ‘slight’ was something not within my control. Our mother tried to reconcile us, to no avail, and so, I went my way and he went his. He died two years later, the bitterness still lingering.

The last time I saw my father, I saw a broken old man and not the terrorist that haunts my youth. I sat on his dusty couch while he talked about people I vaguely remembered or never knew, and his drunken caretaker harangued me about Jesus. A storm was moving in and the forecast was for ice, so I took that as my cue and left a day early. We speak on the phone every few months, whenever his heart acts up, and even though we never have anything to say, we still try to say it.

The last time I saw my grandfather was a perfect summer day. We fished for bluegills in a small lake of black water on land he used to own. I don’t remember what we spoke of and it hardly matters. After, we picked blueberries; I baked two pies and brought most of the fish home on the plane, frozen in a small cooler.

The last time I saw my mother, she was doing well despite her 90 years. We speak often and I’m careful that a cross word never passes between us, in case it is our last.

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11 Comments

Filed under Al McDermid

11 responses to “Family by Al McDermid

  1. Lou

    Nicely done, with such lovely details.

  2. A message in here without being preachy. Great writing, a story well done.

    • That’s interesting. I wasn’t thinking message (except for maybe the last bit), but I see that its there. Thank you. I wrote this at nearly the last minute and thought I’d be skipping a week.

  3. powerful – so many details. this went under my skin: “and even though we never have anything to say, we still try to say it.”

    maybe the message comes through in this unforced, weaved-in way because you weren’t thinking “message”.

  4. Seems like he learned his lesson and tried to get along better with others, with better success as the years passed by. I love the rhythm of this too.

  5. Al, this has so much woven in the words — the hurts let pass, remorse, the tenderness we gain as we forgive in our older age. I’m always a fan, but this I especially like. Peace…

    • Thank you so much. It does seem to work that way; we also believe we know what matters, but we continue to revise ‘the list’, which, not surprisingly, grows shorter. Should I live long enough perhaps I’ll come to understand that there are but a few essentials.

  6. Pingback: Week #19 – The Last Time « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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