I needed a prompt. I chose this one.
Writing Prompt 1: A Story to Work With
In the space of a paragraph or two, jot down that family story (or any other true story) that you’ve heard over and over; if it’s a longer story focus on jotting down one part of it. Perhaps this is the story you’ve heard over and over while growing up, maybe is something you’ve heard others talk about, or maybe it is something you’ve experienced firsthand.
Jot it down. Do not worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar: focus on getting the story on the page.
Feeling stuck? “I remember that story about _________ that mom/dad/uncle/my neighbour told me about _________.”
[Side note #1: Obviously, this is a true story. At least from what I can tell is a true story.]
I was always led to believe that my mother’s side of the family was larger, after all, my mother has a brother and a sister while my father has no siblings. Apparently, though there was a younger brother who died after being struck by lightning and a younger half-sister who died of lung cancer. Which one of my grandparents was married before? Was it my grandmother, the matriarch of the family or my grandfather, the solid (if a little quiet) one beside my grandmother? Obviously, I only knew my grandparents later in their lives after they left their country and came here to split their time between their daughters and occasionally their son back in their old country.
No one (and by no one, I mean my mother) talked about her (supposed) half-sister. Was she even her half-sister? Perhaps, she was a cousin? Some distant relative? I have no idea. My aunt has long passed and my mother is incredibly tight-lipped about…well, everything. I do remember the last time I visited them was her son teaching me to play the guitar. He had three fingers on the left hand but he still played the guitar quite well. He caught me staring at them one day – I was quite young – and told me that he had accidentally lopped them off while chopping wood.
I can’t get a straight answer out of anyone in my family it seems.
Don’t even ask me about my father. My father likes to tell anyone jokes/tall tales/lies to get a rise out of the other person. (Don’t look at me like that. Everyone knew he was joking…even if my mother still takes him at face value sometimes. He’s another story.)
I’m not even sure there was a youngest brother who died by a lightning strike. Are these tales that my imaginative younger me made up to pass the time in a country that I didn’t belong in? Were they real? I am approaching the age that the people who know will soon be gone. I could ask, but I already know the answers I be given…or really, the lack of answers I would be given.
I’m not even sure why the past seems is a tightly held secret. I know my parents grew up in post-World War II Asia. I know the hardships, the struggle. I just don’t know why it’s hard to talk about. I can guess, but they would only be guesses and the truth would, most likely, be much, much more complicated.