It’s Fathers Day

It’s just another day created by the Hallmark folks, but I find myself thinking about my father. His spirit is captured in this scene from Esperanza Farm I wrote years ago:

It’s Cuba, around 1963. A father’s small business has just been nationalized by the government. He’s going home to tell his wife. His son is with him.

Dad handed me a brown paper bag with two ham sandwiches inside. He had bought them from someone that had stopped by earlier in the day. We walked outside where the rain had been waiting for us. The mist rising was a splashing welcome to our faces.

I watched as my father locked the door, pushing it twice to make sure it was locked, the way he always did. Dad then turned the sign on the string to the side that read ‘closed’. He looked for a few seconds at the door and then he turned to me. He took the bag with the sandwiches from me and said: “I leave with more than I came.” He smiled at me, but I could tell that he was ‘this’ close to crying.

I waited for him to take the first step into the rain-covered street. The intensity of the rainstorm was increasing. Vapor was rising from the broken asphalt. The rain drops sounded like little whips against the concrete sidewalk.

Asking me to follow him, my father ran into the downpour, without looking back. I smiled and followed him. But before he got to the other side of the street, Dad slipped and fell.

I saw him go head first into the wet pavement.

I stopped, not knowing what to do, unsure of how to help him.

He had slid hard, falling on his elbows and knees, but, like a good outfielder making a diving catch, Dad had held on to the sandwiches.

He got up just as quickly and turning to look at me, he smiled with his whole face. He then started running again towards home, laughing as he ran, looking back often to see if I was keeping pace.

His laughter was piercing the gray clouds.

May you spend the day with your Dad, laughing under the rain. If he’s gone, may his memories brighten your day.

Thanks, Pipo.

Bus Ride From Graymoor, With Dad

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(Note: This is an excerpt from From Mountain Road to Easy Street, a work in progress. You can also catch me reading from this novel HERE. This is a first draft. Please keep that in mind if you come upon a clunky sentence or a misspelled word or two…and if you like it, please consider backing the publication of my debut novel HERE).

There was silence in the bus as we drove towards New York City. The full morning got on like any other passenger right after the Bear Mountain Bridge. The Hudson appeared out my window every so often, my traveling companion going in the same direction.

My father, his eyes closed and his head resting, was seating next to me. He was wearing the same light blue, short-sleeve shirt in which he had been buried.

I got closer to see if he was breathing.

“I’m just resting my eyes. I’m awake, if you want to talk.”

“Where were you coming from?”

“Cooperstown.”

“What were you doing up there?”

“I wanted to see if Tony Oliva was going to get in this year. It was the first year he was eligible since he retired.”

“Was he?”

“No. This was also the first year for Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson. Those two sucked up all the votes.”

“Maybe next year.”

“Yeah, there’s always next year. How about you, where you coming from?”

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The Little Things That Sustain Writers

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The odds of finding fame and fortune as a writer are remote, to say the least. The odds of finding satisfaction in the regular communing with a blank page however, are much better.

That’s why a lot of us do it. That’s why I do it.

Motivation helps to ease the lonesome task of writing and rewriting. Encouragement, wherever it could be found, will serve as fuel. Just like the drinks of water offered a marathoner along the route, an occasional news story can be a reminder that good things would meet us at some point in the future.

The story of The Help, the debut novel by Kathryn Stockett, is such a reminder: happy endings are just not for Hollywood movies. A rejection letter may not be the last word in the fate of a manuscript.

Industry standard Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and in The New York Times, Janet Maslin called “The Help” a “button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel.” Positive vibes are viral on the Web.”It’s exciting to see someone get this kind of attention for a first novel,” Stockett’s agent, Susan Ramer, says. “This is very rare.”

Not bad for a manuscript that was shunned as Stockett shopped it to agents. She stopped counting at 45 rejection letters, but kept at it until Ramer snapped it up after reading a few pages. What others didn’t see — or care to read — was immediately evident to Ramer.

“Reading it, you say, ‘I’ve got to have this,'” Ramer says.She was able to sell the book in a matter of days. Publisher Amy Einhorn chose it to launch her own imprint at G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Determination, in the right measure, can work wonders.