family - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
My mother was task master, mission maker and decider of everyone's general direction in life. She organized the chores, the academia and the fun like any good army drill sergeant. My father did nothing but work; work at his job, work at fixing up the house and work at getting enough sleep so that he didn't doze off on the way to the factory the next day. Once in a while he would smile or laugh - and when he did the world brightened for those precious moments - then he would sink back down into his whirl of fretting. My older brother was the champion, the go-getter, the model child that mom had so carefully crafted. I was the extra, the buddy, the second and last. Always I got less support, less consideration, but still compared to the yard stick of my brother. Always second best, always found lacking in some vital ingredient for success. I took to following Dad around the house, learning what tools to use for what, how to fix a leak, make a wall frame, insert a new window...
My family was as dysfunctional as it was large. My parents enthusiasm for procreation vastly outstripped their meagre budget. With each new sibling the resource pie got cut a little finer. By the time I was a teen, fast growing and hungry, I got the same meat portion as the toddlers. The rest of my plate was potatoes and peas - and never enough of either. It's true that we older kids learned more self-sufficiency and parenting skills than our more pampered peers, but for the most part we really just wanted our freedom. As soon as I could earn a buck I was buying my own food and some for my sibs too. I'd usher them up to a bedroom and we'd have a "big-kids only feast" away from the little ones. Afterwards our moods were better and we didn't mind reading bed-time stories so much or even helping to fold the stacks of laundry. Mostly Mom was just snippy, short tempered and constantly over-worked. Dad was stressed from being flat broke in a never ending sea of necessary expenses...
Through the swirl of sickening fears comes my mother's voice, casual and light - as usual I can't hide my problems for more than a few seconds. But what can she do? Fight the police? Alter the minds of the masses to accept my colour not as a characteristic of a criminal? To see me just as I am - a teenager, a boy, stressed about homework, deadlines and making money at my part-time job. How can I tell her that my biggest fear isn't drugs or gang indoctrination but those who swore to protect and serve? She's worked all her life to give us a good home, food and more. We've never been left wanting for hugs, smiles, laughter and acceptance in these four walls. But out there...out there I'm marked by my black skin and afro-hair. My white friends are envied for their physiques and I'm feared. Somehow my muscles threaten and theirs protect. What did I ever do? How can you prove a negative - that you're not bad? So I turn and flash a boyish smile, "Nothin' Mam, just thinking about math."
Saskia sipped her orange juice. After summer she was going to special effects make-up school, then the world was her oyster. Dad stumbled in, half drunk with sleep and sat heavily in the chair in front of her. "Y'up early," he said and raised his thick greying eyebrows and stifled a yawn.
"Had a new YouTube tutorial to upload," she replied. But already his head was slumped into the folds of his tartan pyjamas.
"Whaaa.."he mumbled through the fabric, "watching YouTube?" There was little point to this conversation.
"Yeah, that's right Pops, just wasting my life as usual." Saskia sat back with a grin, winding him up like this was too easy but to be honest, it just had to be done.
"No, no, doll. Focus. I told you, be focused." He raised his head and his eyes rolled as if the whole world was too much effort for them to take in. Saskia changed her face to serious just for him.
"Yes, Papa, focus. How about I make some more tutorials?"
"Yeah, Sass, that's it. Do that."
Gina would have killed them both if they weren't blood. Father lay dying and they couldn't hide the glint of delight in their eyes or their voices. Power was coming their way. Not if she had anything to do with it it wasn't. There were other relatives that would rally to her, uncles, aunts and cousins. She could not go against family, but she could broaden her definition to suit herself.
Family was what Jenny lived for and what Toby couldn't wait to escape. Her parents supported her, loved her, made sure she was alright. His parents let him know what a disappointment he was, not going to medical school like his older sister. When they met the love connection was instant but Toby had no idea what else he'd be getting. In just a few short months he had the love of his life, new parents and siblings. Going over for Sunday lunch felt like coming home in a way his parent's house never had.
Father was more mentally scarred than physically and his skin was a mass of old wounds. His parents were drunks for most of his childhood, then suddenly turned ultra religious; eager not to spoil the child by sparing the rod. Mother grew up in various foster homes until she was finally adopted as a teenager. I once asked her about her childhood and she had this look about her like a five year old watching "Nightmare on Elm's Street." Between them they messed up pretty good, not having a good role model between them; well, apart from Aunt Carol, the one who adopted Mom. They treated us like little adults from way too young, telling us the worries they had, telling us way too much information about how the world really works. Then when we were teens they swung the other way, trying to rein us in like we were toddlers. I could hate them both for all the crappy things they've said and done. I could turn my back on them and just keep walking. But for all their faults they loved us, they just hadn't a clue how to be parents. I guess if each generation messes up a bit less than the last one day we'll be a normal family, whatever that is.
Once upon a time there were two children, a girl and a boy. The girl had hair the colour of chocolate softened with buttermilk and a heart as big as a sunflower. The boy had a grin cheekier than any monkey and was all the more adorable for it. Their parents loved them with the power of a thousand suns and they flourished, intelligent and kind. The father danced with them in the kitchen to crazy music, the sillier the better. He chased them with fingers that would turn them into monsters with one wiggle. The mother surrounded them with love and was more fierce in their defence than any lioness...
One of us, that's what you are, that is family, that is for life, that is our forever, that is our promise. Welcome to ride or die.