Appreciating Differences

My mother and father were very different from each other. She was volatile and outgoing. He was quiet and non-demonstrative. A draftsman by trade, he had neat block printing. His basement workshop shelves contained Skippy jars of nails, nuts and bolts, each with its content duly noted on labels, printed in his steady hand. My mother was brought up in the Catholic Church in the days of “sister school.” I was told that at a young age, the nuns wrapped her knuckles with a ruler when she tried to write with her left hand. Consequently she became a right-hander with almost illegible script.

Our Christmas tree is a memory tree. On the bottom branches, I hang gift tags from years gone by. “To Lillian, Love Mom” written in her horrific handwriting. I also hang wooden ornaments made on my dad’s jigsaw, inscribed on the backs in perfect block letters, “Love Dad.” Nostalgic during the holidays, I occasionally peruse my 1947 baby book, not so much to look at the old black and white photos, but to see my mother’s script which fills the pages. The ramblings of a young harried woman, writing about daily life with me. It takes time to decipher, but I feel her presence more if I can make out the words.

My dad’s perfect printing. My mom’s wild scribbling. They fought, they loved, they played pinochle together. I treasure each for who they were and who together, made me. And I wonder, when I’m gone, will anyone keep these mementos? Or will the ink be so faded, they will be lost to time.

wildflowers constrained,
exhuberant colors vased
bonsai, controlled art

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday. Today Victoria is hosting and asks us to explore the Japanese art of Wabi Sabi – the art of revering authenticity, appreciating imperfections, slowing down to appreciate rather than perfect. The haibun form begins with non-fiction prose and concludes with a haiku. The haiku must deal with nature. 

52 thoughts on “Appreciating Differences

  1. Glenn Buttkus August 7, 2017 / 3:17 pm

    Such sweet reflections; I envy you your nostalgic attachment to family artifacts & font. Most of mine were lost or discarded by my stepfather, or his numerous other wives, after my mother died at 39.
    But the few I do have are kept in my grandfather’s tattered oil paints briefcase. I still have copies of 8mm home movies too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 7, 2017 / 3:35 pm

      Oh, I’ve always envied folks who have those old family movies! Does your grandfather’s oil paints briefcase still bear the smell of the oils?


  2. Victoria C. Slotto August 7, 2017 / 3:26 pm

    Amazing how this prompt seems to be leading some of us into the world of memories…very nostalgic ones. The contrast between your parents, brought to life in their handwriting, is so effective. That one trait tells an entire story. I guess I was blessed that the nuns never let me be anything but what a am–a lefty. That saddens me for her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 7, 2017 / 3:36 pm

      It explained a lot when I learned about it. Glad you enjoyed the post….a wonderful prompt, Victoria!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Frank Hubeny August 7, 2017 / 3:35 pm

    I’m left handed. They didn’t stop me in school, but I don’t think my penmanship is very good nonetheless. Nice wondering what will happen to those texts. You might want to photograph or scan those mementos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 7, 2017 / 3:37 pm

      A very good idea, Frank. Yes….my mother would be over 100 now if she were alive. So it was in grade school where she was made to be a rightie. Thankfully, I don’t think this is done any more….the rulers on the knuckles or the forcing away from left-handedness.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Victoria C. Slotto August 7, 2017 / 3:57 pm

        When we discussed the whole neurological aspect of changing handedness when I studied nursing, they told us it changed in the early 40’s. I hope this was world-wide. Many kids who changed ended up with speech disorders because the handedness and speech functions are both on the dominant side.

        Liked by 2 people

      • lillian August 8, 2017 / 10:22 am

        This would have been in the 1920s with my mother. Fortunately, she did not have a speech disorder….but she was always sensitive about her writing. It affected her confidence. Am very glad they allow children these days to develop “naturally.”

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Grace August 7, 2017 / 3:46 pm

    How lucky for you to have them Lillian ~ Certainly a treasure to look back on ~ As to their relationship, it is authentic and long-lasting ~ My hubby and I don’t have a perfect relationship either but we managed it through the years ~ Love where the prompt took you and hopefully your children will keep your ink and letters as keepsakes ~ Hope you are well ~

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 10:25 am

      Looking at their handwriting is as special as seeing photos of them. Even more I think because it is actually a part of their thoughts and emotions on the page rather than an image…if that makes sense?
      All is well here….other than a bum leg that I’ve been limping on for quite some time. Seeing the doc tomorrow again…thinking PT is in the picture. 🙂 Looking forward to hosting later today.


  5. katiemiafrederick August 7, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    Ah the left
    oh the right
    right the oh
    left the ah
    PerFect as
    PracTice WitH
    iMperfectionS BeaUty..
    otHeR thaN tHaT hiGH
    LiLLiaN WiTH SMiLeS NoW
    oF oNe crooKed bottom left tooth…
    Having theM all IS A plUS of HappiNess

    litteRally kilLed mE iN
    i DancE
    And SinG
    NaKeD aS A
    ChiLD As PaN ALiVE..

    NaYe KNoW Haibun
    HeaR Fredbun LiVeS oN FReED..
    WitH Fredku And Fredfu iN Martial ArTS2..;)

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 10:27 am

      Ah Katie…..I always appreciate your replies. The part about the crooked tooth has me smiling. I’ve always had crooked teeth and have always been selfconscious with my smiles. But — hey…I figure my teeth are smiling too!l 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • katiemiafrederick August 8, 2017 / 10:57 am

        StraighTest WhiTest
        RarELy SMiLes Tooth
        Metaphor ‘Modern
        Civilized Life’ Truth

        — Reformed Spock

        It’s True i
        Used to be

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Linda Kruschke August 7, 2017 / 4:17 pm

    What a wonderful reflection on the differences between your parents. Though you focus on the differences in their handwriting, just that one detail says so much about them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 12:00 pm

      It’s funny, Linda. Until this prompt, I hadn’t really thought about how their very different way of handwriting says so much about who they were. And the wildflowers vs the very contained, straight-lined, trained bonsai….also aptly say something about their personalities as well. Glad you enjoyed this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. whippetwisdom August 7, 2017 / 4:18 pm

    A beautiful haibun Lillian and I love those gift tags you hang on the Christmas tree. It will be lovely to hand them down to your granddaughter with a copy of this haibun xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:59 am

      Such a good idea. I’ve decided to print a copy of this haibun and to pack it away with my Christmas decorations. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Carol J Forrester August 7, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    This had me welling up. I love the contrast between your parents and the little things like the jars with their neat little labels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:58 am

      It’s funny how as writers (and I’m really not a writer…simply someone who came into writing what I “call” poetry about 2 years ago) we sometimes have memories pop into our heads and then have new insights into those memories because of a prompt or something someone else wites. It’s what I enjoy most about being in dVerse!


  9. Bev August 7, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to your parents. Thank you for sharing these very personal attributes with us, and in such a touching way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:57 am

      I so enjoyed writing this. And really had not thought about how their very different handwritings really displayed their different personalities as well, until I wrote this. So it was a good prompt for me 🙂


  10. Misky August 7, 2017 / 5:05 pm

    I was also forced to write with my right hand (although I cut with my left hand). I was forced to practise and practise, so my penmanship is actually very good (so I’m told). I enjoyed reading your your recollections, Lillian.


    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:55 am

      Ah…..perhaps because you didn’t also have your knuckles rapped??? 🙂 Glad you enjoyed my walk down memory lane. 🙂


  11. lily August 7, 2017 / 6:50 pm

    It is unbelievable how brilliantly your haiku complements your prose. Exquisite piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:55 am

      Thank you, Lily. I actually had the prose written for quite some time before I came up with the idea for the haiku. So glad you enjoyed.


  12. nosaintaugustine August 7, 2017 / 7:03 pm

    What a warm haibun full of loving memories. You could print this out and display it with an ornament from each parent! I also love the dichotomy and tension in your haiku, unique and effective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:54 am

      What a wonderful idea you’ve given me. I shall indeed print this out and place it in the box where these special ornaments are packed away each year. That way, when I’m gone, my children will see this and perhaps understand their value 🙂 Thanks for the idea!

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:53 am

      Glad you enjoyed. Yes — our Christmas tree is full of memories and treasured ornaments — one from when my mother was born (a very very fragile bell) and one from when my father was born (an airplane that is also very very fragile) and a red ball with my name printed on it by my kindergarten teacher! 🙂 Treasures indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Waltermarks August 7, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    Your Haiku makes me think your mom and dad were like wildflowers restrained. The way your Haibun described them, sometimes opposites, sometimes growing the same direction. It sounds like great ground to raise wonderful children

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:51 am

      It was interesting — once I had the prose written…I really struggled to find the complementary haiku with a nature theme…..and then I thought of the bonsai (so straight, so contained) and the wildflowers, their wildness restrained within the vase. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. kim881 August 8, 2017 / 1:47 am

    How lovely to read about your parents, Lillian. It’s interesting how well we know our loved ones’ handwriting, as well as we know their faces, although that’s changing with modern technology and habits. No more rulers on knuckles, though..

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:50 am

      Yes …. I am still one of those who appreciate the gift of stationery and I do still write letters…but to fewer and fewer folks these days.

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:49 am

      mmmmm yes….except make mine a cold glass of chardonnay in the summer 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. paul scribbles August 8, 2017 / 7:49 am

    Wow. Another jaunt into the past and this so beautifully penned. Those differences are what opens up the door to longevity in a relationship and so wonderful that you can take from both and from the whole.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:48 am

      I hadn’t thought about it, until this prompt, how their handwriting really exemplified the differences in their personalities. Hmmmm I wonder what a handwriting expert could surmise from mine???


  16. annell4 August 8, 2017 / 9:33 am

    I love how you strike the difference between your parents. Just love your write, it was as if you took me by the hand, and showed me who you are. “See, this is how I decorated the tree, and these are the ornaments I used. This is how it used to be. These are my parents, and this is where I came from.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:47 am

      It’s interesting isn’t it, how we often divulge a bit about ourselves in our writing? Yes — for me, I went down memory lane with this one. I do love hanging these “memories” on our tree each year. And then after the holidays, they are oh so tenderly wrapped up again and packed away til the next year.


  17. Jane Dougherty August 8, 2017 / 10:37 am

    I did like this piece, Lillian, tender and touching, and your reflection on memory and what happens to the people when we forget them.
    How funny that so many of us are left-handed (I am too). Wonder what that means?

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 11:46 am

      My son tells his son it means he’s quite special! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this one, Jane. It was fun to go down memory lane for a bit.


      • Jane Dougherty August 8, 2017 / 12:18 pm

        It’s good to have the kind of memories you want to revisit 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Janice August 8, 2017 / 1:40 pm

    I like how your haiku parallels the contrasting personalities of your parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 2:42 pm

      Glad you enjoyed…and yes…my dad really was the straight, constrained bonsai – ever serious. My mother was the wildflowers, full of color and put in a vase. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Adda August 8, 2017 / 5:08 pm

    I love how you tell me (because I feel so drawn into your writing) about your mother and father, their differences and how you perceived them and blend this with their penmanship. The images fit your description of each. Mementos of an earlier life, treasured, and kept safe. I get a sense you are more like your father than your mother. Thank you for sharing. I am so glad I joined your site, as it affords me the opportunity to learn more, about you, poetry, and myself. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian August 8, 2017 / 5:40 pm

      Oh Adda…..we will talk when next we see each other. Far beyond high school teacher and student are we. ❤


      • Adda August 8, 2017 / 11:03 pm

        I am very, very, very much looking forward to that time… ❤


  20. alisonhankinson August 10, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    This was beautiful and made me want to cry too. The handwriting especially. my mum passed away 9 years ago this month unexpectedly, and just after she had died our christmas parcels arrived and she had sent them before her death, All I had left was the hurried note she had written and put in the parcel, but it was her handwriitng. I still keep it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s