The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 10:03 am Thursday, January 10, 2019

“Are We Being Served?”

By Kevin F. Wishon

Three kids join their parents at the dining room table. The mood is somber and serious. Mom starts the conversation by laying down the facts.

“Over the past two years, we have noticed a gradual increase in our expenses outside of the occasional repair and inflation. Would someone here like to guess where those increases are coming from?”

A look at Jack, Suzy, and Jessie return shrugs of uncertainty. Glances between the three children seem to ask, do you know why we are here? Dad adjusts his glasses and picks up a list from among the pages of finances lying before him.

“Maybe this will help answer the question your mom is asking.” He adjusts his glasses once more and begins reading.

“This is a list of services we are paying for currently. It starts with a service fee for cloud data storage. We all use this service, so it’s fine. Nevertheless, the list continues with two movie-streaming services, three music-streaming services, an online gaming service, and a tax service. Why we are paying for a tax service, I have no clue. We have been using a certified public accountant for the past two years.”

“Oh. I forgot to cancel that service,” mom notes.

“Ok great. That one can go. However, what about the work out center fee, home meal service, and three photo software services? Since we eat out or order something four days a week of late, that meal service is another one that can go. Lastly, an Internet service provider we haven’t used in years is on the list. What else can we cut?”

Fear fills the three children’s eyes. “I still work out occasionally and log in to the game and music services every day,” Jack says.

Suzy picks up from Jack’s commentary and adds, “Well, I use a music service too when I do my homework. I also watch movies regularly.”

Jessie says, “I use those three photo services for my photography projects and that streaming service for my favorite shows. I also listen to a music service too.”

“And, I still cook those food service meals the next day even if we eat out or order something. I like that service. It saves me the headache of figuring out what we are going to cook for dinner certain days,” Mom explains.

“Ok. Well, that’s great! So, all we can remove from this list is a tax service and an old ISP? Is there a service each one of you is willing to sacrifice?”

Silence descends over the gathering as they consider giving up services, they each enjoy.

“Dying Order”

By Marie Craig

My mother had a volunteer responsibility of being treasurer of her church about 1976.  In preparing for a two week visit to come see my family, she was at the church one day working on her records.  The minister came by that office and asked her what she was doing.  “I’m leaving the checkbook and the reports in dying order.”

He had never heard that term before and asked about it.  She explained that if she didn’t make it back to continue her bookkeeping, then someone else could easily pick up the records and know exactly how to keep the financial pages in good order.

I was impressed by this process and decided to include it in my own procedures.  I have a notebook that has a cover “Marie’s Kick the Bucket Book.”  At my previous church in another city, I was president of the women of the church and helped to plan after several deaths.  There were arguments amongst the descendants of the deceased and much confusion as to wishes of the person.  I decided I didn’t want my family arguing and being undecided about my plans.  That’s why I created my own set of instructions.  This included information about wills, trusts, finances, investments, CPA, attorney, insurance, power of attorney, health care power of attorney, passwords to Internet and phone, wishes for burial and funeral, and inheritances.

I mentioned this at the senior center and volunteered to create a form similar to my book and presented it at an event there.  I figured maybe 10 or 12 people would respond to the notice in the quarterly newsletter.  To my great surprise, 72 people came.  The staff was busy making more copies to hand out to the seniors.  I found that many people my age (and younger) want to be organized and to help their families continue smoothly with postmortem plans.  Several people at the presentation told me that their families don’t want to talk about this and start crying.  I assured them that if plans weren’t made, there would be even more tears when they were hunting for insurance papers or arguing on where the person was to be buried or who would inherit family treasures.

I see this as a positive plan, not morbid.  Perhaps you will want to discuss this with your family.

“It Wasn’t Me”

By Mike Gowen

There I was, sitting at a stoplight, headed home after an errand. Positioned in the right lane, was one car ahead of me. There was another car in the lane to my left, also with a car in front of them. The drivers in both of the leading cars were distracted on their phones, mesmerized by some life or death text, tweet, or Facebook post, oblivious to the light as it turned green. The driver in the lane to my left was apparently in a bigger hurry than I was, so after several seconds of non-recognition of the lead drivers, they proceeded to honk their horn. The driver ahead of me, startled now by the horn, became convinced that I was the impatient driver that had honked. He began screaming and making hand signals in a not very Christian manner all the while staring at me in the rearview mirror. I couldn’t make out what he was screaming, but I suspect his grandma would not have been pleased. Also, since we are not in Japan, I’m fairly certain his hand gestures were not an attempt to refer to me as brother.

I smiled, shook my head, and attempted to mouth the words, “It wasn’t me.” Unfortunately, this appeared to increasingly enrage the driver as my friendly smile was interpreted at laughing at him, and he had no clue what I was attempting to say, assuming the worst. I decided to give up professing my innocence at this point as it was only making matters worse. The driver then decided since I was in such a hurry, he would slow down to a turtle’s pace to antagonize me. I tried my best to ignore him at this point and look for an opportunity to pass. I got my chance after a minute or so, and while I did not make eye contact as I passed, I did notice him to continue to be very animated as I went by. I won’t admit to pushing the speed limit, but I did my best to put some distance and cars between us as quickly as I safely could.

I want to put a positive spin on this, perhaps throw in a moral involving driver etiquette. Sadly, outbursts of road rage are becoming more common. Maybe we need to be a little more patient and give others the benefit of a doubt when behind the wheel. As the late Reverend Billy Graham said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”

“Christmas Past”

By Gaye Hoots

My memories of Christmas are varied. We lived with my father’s parents for the first six years of my life. They did not celebrate any of the holidays in any traditional way. This was not due to religious beliefs. I never questioned it, and it may have evolved because we went to Mama’s parents on all the holidays. Sometimes we went the day before Christmas and spent Christmas Eve there too.

Their house was always decorated for Christmas and everyone got presents. My grandmother cooked a wonderful meal. Each family brought a dish or two. All of the family came for every holiday. Mama had four brothers living, and each had a family. There were twelve of us grandkids.

We were all fairly close in age except for her youngest brother who had TB. He married later and had younger children. When he was single, he bought gifts for all of us each Christmas. The first Christmas I remember clearly was when I was four years old. I had asked Santa for a gun. Santa actually made a visit on Christmas Eve. He looked suspiciously like the nearest neighbor of my grandparents, and I pointed this out to him several times. He said he did not know the neighbor, Ray Bottoms. I gave him the names of the children there, but he didn’t seem to know them either. He told me he was not able to give me the gift I had requested as supplies were short. He gave me a small model of a kitchen stove instead of the gun. If you know me you can imagine how that went over.

When I was six years, we moved from my paternal grandparents to the Marchmont. This was our first Christmas in our own home. I wanted a Christmas tree to put up for us. My dad had gotten me a hatchet, this was my idea of a real gift. I took the hatchet and found a small tree about the same height that I was. I managed to chop it down and drag it back to the house. We strung popcorn and made homemade decorations. It was nothing like my grandparents’ tree. Theirs had electric candles that fluttered, but I was proud that we had our own. On Christmas day we went to my grandparents for the large family get together.

Our family celebrated each year and welcomed the younger cousins when they were born. Soon we were celebrating marriages and the arrival of the first great- grandchildren. The holidays were larger and happier with each arrival. There were nineteen great- grandchildren. My grandfather died at the age of eighty- nine. My grandmother lived to be ninety- nine and had two great-great- grandchildren. She kept up with all our birthdays and sent a card with money for each one. Grandmother and Grandpa attended the weddings of all the grandchildren. Grandpa did miss one, because it required them to fly. Grandmother went on her first flight and attended the wedding.

Two of my first cousins played football. My grandparents would take a quilt and a bag of parched peanuts to the games. They rarely missed one. They attended church each Sunday. When they visited, they had always brought a small bag of candy. They continued to do this for our children. They had been married for over sixty years when my grandfather died. When my grandmother died, she had lived on the same property since she married at the age of sixteen. They put down deep, firm roots, and they celebrated life and each of us. There is never a Christmas that I don’t think of them and remember the bond our family built and grandmother’s sugar cookies.