Writing 101, Day 20
Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.
It’s the final day of the challenge already?! Let’s make sure we end it with a bang — or, in our case, with some furious collective tapping on our keyboards. For this final assignment, lead us through the history of an object that bears a special meaning to you.
A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.
Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.
I’m an old man who, if I live long enough, will soon celebrate a 77th birthday. During this span of these many decades I’ve fallen in and out of love with a host of things, some were tangible – girls, cars, motorcycles, airplanes, and more girls. Others were more difficult to grasp, intangibles. However, I’ve been married to the same lady for twice as many years as I was single. Therefore, my greatest treasures, without a doubt, are those shared with my wife – our children. While it is true that we cannot own our children they share my blood. That is more than enough.
There are five of them, in all – girls – Evie, Sophia, Tina, Sonya, Vicky.
Evie, the oldest came to us while I was stationed at Beale AFB, California. We lived in a tiny mountain hamlet called Rough and Ready 18 miles east of the base. Neither of us had any previous birthing experience. That added to her folks being 500 miles north provided us with several weeks of tense anticipation, and several fast trips down the mountain, only to be sent back home after the doctor decided her pains were false labor.
When the day of reckoning arrived I was allowed no closer to the action than a hard, wooden bench in the hallway. For twelve hours no one knew anything. Nothing! However, at about 8 AM there came a shift change. A kindly, civilian nurse paused at my perch and asked me if I’d like to ask some questions. She was a Godsend. She predicted a girl, missed her weight by one ounce, and the time of her arrival by 48 minutes. Who needs a doctor?
I already had orders for Puerto Rico. Evie traveled to her grandma’s house in a banana box in the back seat of a 1957 VW Bug. I wouldn’t see them again for nearly two months.
Sophia was born at the Ramey AFB Hospital near Aqudillia, Puerto Rico. I worked the flight line from midnight to 8. We lived in Isabela, six miles from the base, and we had no telephone. But in anticipation of her arrival, I requested a leave 15 days before and after the predicted date. When I arrived home one morning, Barb informed me she was in labor. Since she had a 10 AM appointment with her doctor we didn’t rush in like we would have with Evie.
An unscheduled emergency surgery turned everything on its ear, causing mass rescheduling. After I was certain of Barb’s of admittance to the hospital I drove to the base nursery so Evie would be cared for while I found my CO and had my leave papers signed.
The nursery was filled to the authorized capacity. They wouldn’t take her.
The Cold War was on and my unit – the 72nd Armament and Electronics Squadron – was located within a classified area. The guard at the entry gate would not let me take Evie – two-years-old – into the secured area because she didn’t have a security clearance. I would have to leave her with him. After arguing with the guard, and then his supervision, they allowed me 20 minutes, but only after the guard assured his boss that Evie couldn’t talk very clearly.
It was later afternoon and I was bushed by the time I headed home. After seeing to Evie’s needs, I laid down for a few minutes. I awoke at 3 AM. After dressing and feeding Evie, we drove into the base and I called the maternity ward from the lobby.
“Haven’t you heard?” the voice asked.
“Your wife gave birth to girl at 4:12 yesterday afternoon.”
Sophia mirrored her mother with a thick head of waves hair that any woman would love to own. If one were to open the dictionary to the word “dependable” one might very well find Sophia’s name rather than a definition. She never broke any rules. She was always where she was supposed to be. She is as predictable as Old Sol himself.
Then came twins.
Tina and Sonya are identical. After they outgrew their A and B bracelets, Barb painted Sonya’s toenails in order to keep them straight. Barb dressed them differently so that each might develop her own personality. It worked to some degree, but they were mirrored images of one another. By age 14 I was still having trouble telling who was who. When they asked permission to do something special they usually had every option covered. It was easier to simply say okay. They drove their teachers insane. When one high school teacher boasted that he didn’t have any trouble identifying them. They traded clothes and classes. He never forgave them.
Vicky, the last daughter, shares her birthday as well as a forceful personality with her oldest sister. “I’m tired of your stupid jokes,” she once said to me at the dinner table when she was five. Most often, she teamed up with Tina and Sonya. Where you found one you were bound to find the other two. They were often mistaken for triplets. The were times when each had to stand alone. Following the twins into middle school was one of those times. “They were sick and tired of the Laughlin family by the time I came along,” Vicky once said. But she is not bashful. She left her own mark where ever she went. She still does.
My girls have all grown into fine women and given me a million reasons to take pride in each one. What a glorious experience they created at our house.
They never backed away from a challenge.
Not long ago someone posted a World War II photograph of American nurses disembarking at Omaha Beach. I know, had they grown up during that era, they would have been counted in that group.
Indeed, the five of them are my treasures.