[If you came here looking for the rotini recipe, I askidently published it when I meant to schedule it. It will reappear on June 22, 2016.]
About six years ago, I wrote about one of my best writing payoffs and said I’d write about the other one another time. I don’t think I ever did. I may have, but I don’t think so.
When my late mother-in-law was living and active, she held open house every Sunday for her six children and their spouses and children and grandchildren. Up until the last few years, she insisted on doing all the cooking. She had a colostomy and arthritis and didn’t sleep well, so she would get up in the wee hours of the morning and start cooking.
Sometimes she’d have cabbage and beans and cornbread, sometimes she’d have pot roast and green beans, sometimes she’d have pork chops and mashed potatoes and corn…. Whatever she felt like making is what she made. And always, always, always cake or pies.
Then we’d come in and give her hugs and kisses, and the young’uns would go play and squabble, and the older ones would go talk and squabble. She didn’t like it when anybody squabbled, so the loudest ones usually went out on the porch.
She was a smart lady, and she had worked for years in the “sick baby” ward of a major hospital, but she didn’t like to talk computers or politics, and there was a lot of both flying around then.
Before we left, we would have taken turns washing and drying the dishes.
Well, I wrote a short piece from her point of view, from her getting up to start cooking to her closing the door after us. I imagined what she might feel like and what might go through her mind while we were yakking and disagreeing and half-way taking the open house for granted and half-way realizing how wonderful it was.
When I showed it to her, I got my best writing payoff ever. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “How did you know?”
I said, “You told me. A bit at a time, a little here and a little there, and I put it all together.”
She said, “I didn’t think anybody was listening.”
Now, I’m asking you: Is there — could there ever be — a better payoff than that? I mean EVER? What more could any writer ever want than to be the voice of somebody who didn’t think anybody was listening?
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Put yourself in the place of someone who is taken for granted and imagine what that might be like. Take note of that person’s actions, reactions, facial expressions, tones of voice, and so on, and let those inform your imagination.