My Great-Grandmother Velma Neiberding was a writer in the most traditional sense. She was a published author; she contributed to the records of Ottawa county for the Oklahoma Historical society; and from what I understand she also wrote recreationally. I have a copy of one of her books in hardback, Sugar and Spice, and I will never ever give it up. She died before I became closely acquainted with her enough to claim any specific influence, but her legacy in the family is still tangible. And having some of her writing available is a wonderful gift. It is true that words live longer lives than we do.
Her son, my Grandpa Jack Dunaway, also wrote. I don't know whether he was ever published, but he wrote prolifically. So much. And so well. He made people laugh and feel good with his words, writing about daily life and his experiences in the U.S. Army and with big animals as a country veterinarian. Just organically great stuff!
He was an incredibly loving and world-aware man, as witty as my to-do list is long. He had a way with words that made you want to read about what would otherwise be just the most mundane things ever! Even after his passing we continued to find typewritten essays and poems, possibly never shared with a soul.
Too bad blogging wasn't around yet for Grandpa Dunaway. He would have been even more popular than Mrs. Ioneer-Pay Umman-way.
My Dad is a writer. He will strenuously object to this label, and he has every right to do so, but it fits. Too bad, so sad...
Dad wrote the most humble, beautiful and time-tested message to me at my high school graduation inside the cover of a Dr. Seuss book.
Yes yes, I know LOTS of seniors received Oh the Places You'll Go for a gift, but only MINE has my Dad's handwritten love letter inside...
When my middle-little-brother-who-actually-seems-like-an-older-brother and his lovely wife had their first baby...
Aren't they a beautiful family??
...Dad shared with us a piece he wrote called PIQ. "Perceived Importance Quotient." It is priceless. He outlined the aching truth about how parenthood shifts through time, how the complete dependence of an infant and the proportional self-assured feeling of necessity for the infant's parent gradually devolves. Sad, true, exaggerated, loving words from a man who has never received the honor he so richly deserves.
We were invited to respond and Big-Little Brother did so eloquently, but I never found the words. I can't get comfortable matching my Dad. Way to show me up again Joey! Sheesh.
My youngest daughter writes. She is thirteen, and as I sit here her bookshelves and the space beneath her bed are stuffed with journals, notebooks, and errant pads of paper all tattooed with her sprawling thoughts and imaginative stories.
At times I have thought she cannot contain the flood, a familiar feeling. She is talented and passionate and terribly missed in these walls. But now we are pen pals, and I can read her letters and stories every day! Words live.
So the bloodline continues.