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My Stepfather: SOL 18

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To My Stepfather

Three days after meeting me, you drove out to Connecticut to buy that tiny rocking chair that only a very small girl could fit in. You’d only been on one date with my mother, but when you returned her to our house you noticed that my brothers had their own chairs for reading aloud time. I sat on the couch with my mother. I was fine with it, but you were not. I used that rocking chair every night for most of my childhood. 

My mother sold that rocking chair after the divorce. I guess she needed the money.
I was the only one who would go fishing with you at 4:30 in the morning. The boys thought fishing was okay, but I, I lived to fish. So every once in awhile, on a Saturday, We drove an hour to where your friend Robert had lots of land and his own pond. While we drove, we said almost nothing. Companionable silence helped us keep our eyes peeled for the hidden entrance to the pond.

Finally we saw the sign and you turned the car onto a long winding dirt road that led to the pond.  As we drove down the road, a warm feeling went from my chest to my stomach.  I opened my window to let the pond sounds in.

“Let’s choose our lures,” you said. We scanned your tackle box which had hundreds of little compartments, each holding a small feathery treasure. You made these lures--calling it your art. They were beautiful. Some green with black, others red with pink. They were furry, feathery, shiny and sparkly, anything to catch a fish’s attention.

You showed me a spot that was flat and had a rock for sitting. You asked me  to cast once to see if I remembered how. Then you left me alone, but not really, since you fished just a few feet away. I couldn’t see you through the brush, but I could hear your movements as you cast the line and reeled your fish in.

When we were hungry, we took a break to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and drink ice-cold pink lemonade from a red plaid thermos poured into tiny paper cups. You would throw green grapes in the air and catch them in your mouth.
You weren’t very nice to my brothers which made me feel sad and guilty. You were always kind to me in that understated way that made me wonder why it was so hard for you to tell it like it was. I am a talker, you are not. You loved my jokes, laughing in that real way with your chin tucked in  and your icy blue eyes twinkling.

There were rough times. The apartment was filled with anger and sadness.

When we moved to Maine from New York City, we weren’t sure why. But we found out later--it was something about embezzlement--and we kept it a secret. Secrets filled our house until our mother couldn’t take it any more. She asked me to tell you to leave. “I’m going to Castine with the boys for the summer,” she said. “Do you think you could tell him I don’t want to be married any more?” I wanted to stay and hang out with my boyfriend that summer, so I agreed.

I was 17 years old on that summer day when I suggested Dos Locos for some Mexican food. “You probably shouldn’t be here when she gets back,” I said. You nodded.

I helped you pack and drove you to the airport a few days later. You made some jokes and I smiled so I wouldn’t cry. “Goodbye,” I said as I hugged you by the curb.


  1. You crafted this so beautifully. So much emotion weaved in what the reader can infer, left unsaid. This one broke my heart a little.

  2. I feel the love in your voice, the sadness, too. He wasn't perfect, but he loved you. Oh man, here come the tears.

  3. It is natural for children, I think, to want to focus on the good and not the bad--and you captured this well. I'm still reeling over the details of a teenager being handed the responsibility of ending a marriage. I want to hug that teenager, and tell her I'm sorry she had to grow up so fast.

    1. Thank you for seeing this just as it was intended, soul sister.

  4. Oh, my. This is so powerful, so real and so beautifully written. This slice embodies the Frost quote, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." Tears sting as I type this and my heart is heavy with the sadness and the joy of a complicated love. I agree with Kathleen, that this piece broke my heart a little. Wow.

  5. Wow. Absorbing. There is so much here. What a piece of writing Kimberley.

  6. This piece broke my heart A LOT. How sad for you to have to bear that responsibility as a teenager. I can't even imagine. Despite the very sad ending, I'm glad you can remember those special moments too.

  7. So much to take in in this slice - layers and layers of the stuff that makes us strong and also breaks our hearts.

  8. How gut-wrenching that must have been. So young to be taking on your mother's responsibilities. You had some lovely memories of your life with your stepdad - and so must he. Powerful slice.

  9. This is such an intense and personal slice. I found myself so sad while reading this and thinking of all that you had to go through. I am also happy for the sweet memories that you remembered with your stepdad.

  10. What a difficult journey for you and your step-father.

  11. What a complicated journey for you and your stepdad. My heart breaks for him and you. He tended you so. A beautiful piece of writing.

  12. Being asked to do that and being asked to do that at 17...I'm so sorry.

  13. What a complicated and important relationship! I love how you demonstrated this in this touching slice. Powerful. Sad. Moving! LOVE it!

  14. These posts about your stepfather really feel like a story to me -- they would be great characters to get to know. Both have many layers, with internal and external conflicts to face. It reads so powerfully and you craft these memories so well.


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