By Emily Morrison
There aren’t many thoughts I keep to myself. I’m a bit of a talky-talkerson. One of my favorite authors and fellow Mainers, Stephen King, writes about this ‘‘tell all’’ quality in himself in his memoir “On Writing.” Apparently, one of King’s uncles once described young Stephen by saying, “Every time Stephen opens his mouth his guts fall out.”
This, for better or worse, is how I roll. Whenever I speak, some of my innards come out. Graphic, I know.
In my defense, I take after my father who is also a writer and lover of words. He lives to stir the pot and keep stirring it, and there have been many times in my life that I’ve both loved and loathed him for it.
Take, for example, when I was around 13. Dad would purposefully drop the names of boys he knew I had crushes on in conversation to get a rise out of me.
While unloading an armload of groceries he’d casually look across the counter and say, “Oh, by the way, I just saw Jesse down at the store. Didn’t he look like he was looking for someone all the way down aisle 12?!”
To which I’d reply, “Dad, stop! Jesse was not looking for me in aisle 12 of Bud’s Shop N Save. That’s ridiculous.”
He’d pause, study my face for 10 full seconds, then inform me that not only was Jesse not looking for me, he wasn’t even there because, of course, Dad had made the whole thing up.
“But if I had seen Jesse, he most certainly would have been looking for you because you are a precious, precious peanut.”
See what I mean? My father is a cauldron churner if ever I saw one.
In Dad’s defense, he was never mean-spirited in his many fictional confessions. He simply enjoyed interacting so much that in the absence of real conversation, he’d make one up.
Now, for what I love about him. He’s equally fearless when it comes to talking about the real things in life — faith, vocation, family, loss. He never shies away from having tough conversations. Well, he never shies away from conversation period, but you know what I mean.
He cuts through the BS.
As a deacon in the Roman Catholic church, before the pandemic began, Dad routinely visited shut-ins, the elderly in nursing homes and people who have no one else to talk to.
Also, he runs a Rites of Christian Initiation class for his parish even if only one or two “students” sign up.
I often joke with him that he should put a decal on his car, “Cruisin’ for Catholics,” so if people see him out-and-about they can flag him down and talk with him about their faith. Because if you want to have a random roadside chat about why you’re angry with the church, or how long it’s been since you’ve been to mass or even why you’ve lost your belief in God, Dad’s your guy.
He listens. He cares. He doesn’t just nod at all the right times or offer some empty platitude about how, “Talking to God is a two-way street.”
Instead, he asks questions like, “So, how’s your prayer life?” then waits for you to respond.
Can’t you see why I love him so?
On top of being silly and punny (he shares grammar puns like, “Let’s eat grandma!” “Let’s eat, grandma!” PUNCTUATION SAVES LIVES!”) he’s also soulful and wise. Honestly, I can’t imagine my life without his voice in my ear telling me, “Just speak your truth, Em. Tell your story. Put it out there.”
So here I am. Letting my insides fall out again, telling the man who reminded me how precious I was as an awkward 13-year-old how much I love him for it. There would be no stories to tell, no wise insights to share, no life lessons learned or corny grammar jokes to crack without him doing it first, and better.
Even if he is a cauldron churner if ever I saw one in aisle 12 of Bud’s Shop N Save.
This first appeared in the January/February issue of Bangor Metro magazine, available on newsstands throughout much of Maine. Bangor Metro is also available by subscription.