TEN THINGS \ Part Three




As a young man, he called to tell you he was sick with the flu. You were concerned and asked him if he had any food in the house.

 “No, I haven’t been eating much,” he replied. So you went through your cupboards and put some malt-o-meal and graham crackers in a bag. You stopped at the food store and bought him fresh fruit, eggs, and juices. Two days later he called you to say, “I have a small infestation of weevils. Thanks Mom.”

He worked out daily. His body was buff and you wondered if he took steroids. He always said “no.” Once he talked you into joining a gym nearby. “A sweet deal,” he called it.  You joined and when you went there the following week a sign on the door said, “CLOSED.”

He asked you for a loan to buy a treadmill. You gave him some money. Two years later, he decided to sell it and you bought it for the original amount.

You’d go to his house, a mile from yours, and work out with him. One day you were weight lifting on his red cushioned bench and he lit up a joint of marijuana.

“I can’t believe you are smoking this in front of me,” you said, hoping he would put it out. He laid his head back on the loveseat across from you and with a big grin he said, “Ah, Mom, I know you and Dad smoked pot when you were younger.” You smiled, knowing what he said was true.



You don’t have an 11, 12, or any other number for this story. What you wanted to write about is too painful to say, even to think about for longer than a couple minutes. Had he lived, you would have had plenty of opportunity to discuss it with him and hear his take on it and he could listen to why it occurred in the first place.

You wanted to write about how he took risks. About the thrill of it, his fascination with fast cars, motorcycles, and drugs. The delight he took in going from one successful project to another—never staying around long enough to develop it. The stunts he performed for free, like the wheelie he executed so perfectly until he forgot to look, or couldn’t peer over his headlight, or perhaps he was thinking about what he would do after his ride home from the gym.

But the stories stop here. There aren’t any more to tell. You want to write a few more about his adult years. You want to share stories about his college life, the date of his wedding and to whom. You want to talk about his grandchildren and what a great uncle he was to his nieces and nephews. You want to hear him give people “hell” that weren’t being nice to you or his sisters. You want to hear his laughter, see him smiling with that huge grin of his that was mischievous but invigorating at the same time.  But that is never going to happen. Of course, you can always imagine how his life turned out. You can picture him as a young man settled down, but at the end of that daydream, you face the truth. You never had the chance to have the conversation you always wanted to have with him. So, there are only ten things you really know about him.     

About TRatner

Terry Ratner is a freelance writer, registered nurse, and writing instructor in Phoenix, Arizona. In June of 2004, she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Writing has always served a purpose in her life, but it wasn't until her son died in a motorcycle accident in March, 1999, that she began to publish her works. What's unique about Terry is the way she balances the life of a nurse with the life of a writer. "Nursing allows me to give back to the community and then write about those experiences." Ratner teaches creative writing in a variety of settings from community colleges to a school for homeless children (Thomas J. Pappas) to wellness communities throughout the Valley of the Sun. In 2004, Terry launched an Arts and Healing program for children undergoing dialysis at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. She has published numerous personal essays, cover stories, interviews, and book reviews for a variety of national and regional publications. Her manuscript, a work in progress, features a series of twelve essays, ten of which are introduced with black and white photos, dealing with issues of family and identity.
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2 Responses to TEN THINGS \ Part Three

  1. Connie says:

    Beautiful, just beautiful.

  2. mary louise stuve says:

    i just found (and read) nearly all your posts. I was very touched by your story. Sorrow became our constant companion in 1989 when we lost our brillian beloved son, Darren, when he was just 16.

    Last year, sorrow orrow touched us again when i was diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer. I am following that too familiar path of tests, radiation, chemo, and more tests that all cancer patients travel. My dear husband is at my side for every step we take on this difficult journey just as you were for Michael. We know it is not likely to end well but we make the most of each day and our love for one another, just as you and micheal did.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Mary Louise

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