An exercise in writing


This is the first time I have considered beginning an article by writing “Dear Reader.” It is because it will be something different from anything I have ever written before.

I found a book titled, “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg (1986). She suggests setting a timer to a certain amount of time, and with no preconceived idea of what to write, just sit down and begin writing when the timer goes off, and don’t stop for any reason until the timer goes off again, letting you know the time is up.

My reason for using this idea is to encourage each of you to try it. You can set the time for any amount of minutes you want, and follow some of the requirements in her book. They include: keeping your hands moving, not crossing anything out, and not worrying about spelling or punctuation. So, my timer is set and here goes…

Come along for the ride and see where it takes us.

“Since I have no idea of what to write, I think I will begin writing about the clock on the wall in my dining room. It reminds me now of the clock that was on the wall at the courthouse when I first started working there back in the 50s. It was there to greet me when I went in in the morning at 8:30, and told me when it was 4:30 and time to go home. It also told me when to go to lunch and when I should be back. At 4:30, it told me to stop. So, I stopped. Everything stopped. Everything. Seeing that I have typed that everything stopped, I am reminded of what my daughter, Cathy, told me when she was told by the doctor that there would be no more cancer treatments for her husband, Butch, and she had to call hospice right away. And when she did, everything stopped. He didn’t go back out to his shop, she no longer went to work because the hospice people were coming. A young woman came, Paige, I think. The hospice people brought a hospital bed into their home, and he only lived for one more whole night. Paige told Cathy that Butch would be passing very soon. She showed her that he was changing color. He died at 4:00 a.m., so it was then Nov. 1.

All the time Butch was in bed, their dog, Omar, laid on the floor beside him. The minute Butch stopped breathing, Omar stood up. And stayed right there without moving.”

Well…well…my time is up. During the typing of the above paragraph, I was very nervous about what was coming to my mind and was not sure where it was going. (It’s rather hard to type when you are blinking back the tears in your eyes.) It was a big decision as to whether or not I should use this for my article this week. So, I called Cathy and asked for her permission to write about Butch’s passing. When I read it to her, she said it would be fine.

I would like to write a little more about that long November 1. After Cathy called us at about 6:00 a.m., we got a flight out of Columbus to Orlando, and after renting a car, we got to Cathy’s house and were driving up the driveway, to be with her, just as the sun was setting. I was glad we got there before dark. Some lady friends brought food to Cathy’s house, and the neighbors came over for a bit, and there were more phone calls that had to be made. In review of what I have written, I see that I went from writing about the clock here at home, to the clock at work, and to knowing that 4:30 meant stop. When I wrote “Everything stopped,” I was reminded of Cathy’s words to me after we arrived. Her words of “Everything stopped,” have stuck in my head ever since our son-in-law, Butch, died on that long November 1 day in 2006.

Since I began this article with “Dear Reader,” I will close with my best wishes to each of you.

By Kay Conklin

Contributing columnist

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

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