So when people ask me if I got inspiration for my tales of the macabre from
working in a funeral home- the answer is no.
Do I get inspiration from those roads I used to ride my motorcycle down- the ones that you could say are in ‘ghost towns’ did I find it in the abandoned houses the ruined cemeteries the dark corners of churches and morgues.
Not so much.
I find that my strangest ideas come from
I haven’t always wanted to be a writer- I have always wanted to be a storyteller.
There’s a thin line that separates the two things and if you fall on one side or the other I don’t think it matters. But for me the difference is a big one and this is the reason I chose to become a storyteller.
My family comes from the side of the world- not only from where we live now but from the places we came from too ( The Philippines and England/Scotland ) but they have one thing in common.
They love to hear stories and if you’re lucky you are one of the people who can tell a story that everyone will listen to.
To me that was a coveted spot in our family hierarchy. You get lots of attention and a certain amount of notoriety because to this day I can tell you who the good story tellers in my family were.
They were colorful, they were always a little odd and when they died everyone was convinced they came back as ghosts and haunted the houses they lived in. They entertained us in life and death.
To set the stage, this is how the storytelling came together ( which was the same for both sides of my family ):
The lead up to the stories was the same- after dinner or after wr finished dessert, someone would close the curtains or light the fire ( during the winter ) or turn on a fan ( if it was summer ) and then one person would say ( for example ) ” You know that house where Mother’s friend died a few years back? Well, I was walking my dog past there and something really weird happened…”
My entire family loved those ghost stories, they liked funny ones too.
Like when my Great Aunt was a teenager someone thought it would be a great idea to send her Community Choir Group ( which consisted of young ladies ) into a men’s prison to perform music.
My Great Aunt also played the banjo and apparently she was a big hit at “The Pen”
I remember after she told us about that performance we all waited for a punch line or something. I mean. I was about 6 when I heard that story and even then I knew Men’s Prisons were, well, nasty places.
So I said, ” Did they like your Banjo? ”
For some reason everyone started laughing- but believe it or not from that event on when I told stories about my dog or my adventures with my best friends Bonnie and Linda ( we got into trouble once for digging up our Mother’s gardens because we were looking for Vampires ) every single adult in the room would let me spin my tale.
My Grandpa used to say I was a natural storyteller and that he loved the way I put words together- he said I made them fit even if I had to pound them into place like the way you do when you force puzzle pieces together.
He also said that after I got done telling one of my stories, pretty much everyone was ready for a drink and that they figured one day I’d be a lawyer, a writer or my picture would be hanging up in Post Offices and at the FBI where they put up pictures of the ” Most Wanted.”
After I learned to read and write I did got to town with the storytelling. I wrote all of the time and then after I got married I stopped writing. I’m not sure why but I guess I didn’t see myself as a storyteller anymore.
I saw myself as a Ringmaster in a circus where the performers where three sons, a husband and a cat named Wolfgang who fought dogs and won-
I had three pet rats too.
What I didn’t have was that little voice that would whisper in my ear, ” Hey, did you tell them about that weird thing we saw yesterday?”
That voice was gone.
And then like magic- I went on line to look up a place for lunch and I didn’t get the name of the spot right but I did come close- what I found was a website called ” The Soul Food Café “.
I was intrigued the minute I got on the site.
Instead of an address and menu and dining hours for your standard restaurant fare I found writing prompts and ideas for creating poems and challenges tied to advent calendars which contained even more ideas for stories or crafts and even recipes for pastries.
Without a doubt what I found at the Soul Food Café was food for the storyteller in me and in that moment as I clicked on page after page I found out how hungry I had really been and that I had been starving for years.
The ‘doors’ of the Café shut for awhile, and like the ghosts of my story telling family members I guess I haunted it from my blogs until Bancroft showed up and like any restless spirit with time on their hands I happily moved in an found a new place to haunt.
What’s changed for me over the years as I have begun to haunt Bancroft is this, I am older ( of course because I came to the Café over ten years ago ) I feel like a writer AND a storyteller and now instead of wearing labels that were slapped on my back as I raced through life I’ve kept one because I am fond of it:
it’s one that my Grandpa Bert gave to me all those years ago- the one that said I was a natural storyteller and I knew how to make those words fit together, even if I had to pound them into place.
among the ruins
covered in decay
sometimes I see starlight
waltzing among the graves.
It doesn’t dance to music
it’s doesn’t hum a tune
starlight are only ghosts
the remains of a dying Sun
Standing on a Literary Legend’s Shoulders I ask and answer the question:
Do you know what I saw last night?
Do you know what I saw when I looked out my bedroom window
just after midnight when the night sky was full of darkness and the air heavy with cries of Nightjars and bats singing out to their prey?
Do you know what I saw
when I looked out my window and a terrible creature
with a broken face and a missing eye screamed at me from it’s nightmare
I saw my reflection in my window.
That’s what I saw.
When I was around 9 years old, my family had come together for their traditional Christmas dinner and this time my paternal Grandmother was beside herself because she had found out that my little cousin ( she was my Dad’s sister’s child ) would be eligible to join The Daughters of The American Revolution when she “became a teenager”.
My Grandma’s family ( her Mother’s side, the Ross Family ) had been around when the Colonies had a tea party and they decided to fight and help stick it to the King and become Independent from the British Empire.
Keep in mind that’s how I understood the history of the States at the time.
My cousin- who my Grandmother insisted was another Shirley Temple in the making had nicknamed my cousin ” Tahnuse “. I have no idea if Tanuse knew where England was. I have no idea if she understood what much about American history because she was like 5 years old at the time.
There was no mention about me or my sister applying to join DAR when we became teenagers.
My Mom and Dad were upset about this little oversight on Grandma’s part.
It was few other relatives from my Grandfather’s side of the family really who had no real stake in the matter because that side of the family had emigrated from Canada who for their own reasons weighed in on the matter.
They were English and Scottish and I always had the faint impression they weren’t exactly enchanted with the DAR concept. So it’s surprising now that when I look back on it that it was one of them that pointed out that if Tahnuse was eligible to join so were me and my sister.
Grandma went on the defense- I don’t remember what she said but I remember the expression on her face.
She looked like she had just spotted a hundred dollar bill on the sidewalk and just as soon as she went to pick it up, the wind blew it away.
From what I learned later, Isaac Ross went into the system when one of my Grandmother’s family members joined the Sons of The American Revolution- in fact he was accepted into the membership a month after I was born in 1964.
I’m not sure why it took almost 9 years for that to come up in my Grandmother’s family-but they are huge and there was no social media platform in those days to spread the word around the world in like two minutes.
Anyway it was when her excitement over sharing that Tahnuse could join this club that the elephant entered into the room and took a seat.
I wasn’t adopted, I was my father’s daughter and my Grandmother’s first born grandchild.
But I wasn’t a golden haired blue eyed Shirley Temple in the making and at the time I was NOT anyone’s idea about what a little American Patriot girl looked like.
Even to my own Grandmother.
Now my Grandfather would swear up and down that I looked like his Mother- actually there isn’t any resemblance at all but I guess he didn’t care. Plus I didn’t care.
Nan, as we called my Grandpa Bert’s mother, scared the bejesus out of people and if you have to be compared to anyone- she’s the one I’d pick.
Plus my Grandfather had already claimed me outright as I was before I was born.
My Grandfather Bert was the one who drove my Mom to the hospital when she went into labor with me and because he and my Dad have the same name, he sort of neglected to tell the staff that he wasn’t that Bertram Godfrey .
I guess he enjoyed his moment in the sun where everyone thought he had a young wife in labor and she was delivering their child. I also think he enjoyed watching my Dad sort out that miscommunication
He loved to tell that story.
My Dad did not enjoy hearing it.
Exploring my Family Tree has been yielding some interesting things- cool names, fun history and it’s brought back some memories that I haven’t wanted to think about for years.
But as ugly as some of it is, to forget some things is to take away from the good memories.
They all make for great stories and I know that among other things-before I am a daughter, Mom, Grandmother, before I am a ‘leaf’ on my family tree-
I am first and foremost writer.
And like any writer will do- I think I’ll keep it all.
RDP Wednesday – FEAR
Photo by Laurentiu Robu on Pexels.com
Fear is an unlocked door, it’s hinges rusted fast with age.
Fear is a blind window, a cold kitchen, a dusty hallway
a carpet worn to dust, furniture green with mold
Fear is living forever in the world outside
because no one knows
you have died.
From Jamie’s website:
Jamie Dupuis (born in New Liskeard, Ontario, Canada), is a Canadian guitarist/composer and producer, best known for his complex fingerstyle technique, energetic performances, and his arrangements on the guitar and harp guitar. In 2016, Jamie’s arrangement of Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd on the harp guitar has gotten over 19 million views on Facebook, gaining international recognition. Also winning 1st place at the Canadian Guitar Festival Competition (2016), one of the finest guitar competitions in the world (2016) Dupuis has successfully carved out his own style as a solo artist worldwide.