Counting Words and Milestones

500 Words Challenge logo
500 Words Challenge logo

The second day of the New Year, and here I am, churning out words, mainly because I joined Jeff Goins’ 500 Words a Day Challenge for the month of January. What was I thinking? I’m already a day behind!

I’m late for a couple of reasons:

1. I didn’t know about and sign on for this challenge until last night.

2. I took my fourteen-year-old grandson out to lunch, and we did some post-Christmas shopping (he had a gift card to use), and then I dropped him off for his hitting lesson (he’s a baseball player). I had a great time. I think he did, too.

This child (dare I still call him that?) isn’t a stereotypical adolescent.

We talked. A lot.

We talked about cars. And driving, the next big milestone for him, I suppose. On the way to lunch, we passed a very old Ford Explorer parked on the side of the road not far from his house, and I kidded him, said we could probably buy that for a song and save it for when he drives.

We talked football, both college and pro. I learned that he feels bad for Eli Manning because Eli’s having a bad year.

We talked about dogs: about how great his is, and how he thinks I need one, and what kind to get.

We talked about the city where I live (he lives out in the country, sort of) and what it needs in terms of development. Very sophisticated conversation.

And then we talked family. He asked questions about what his dad was like at fourteen. “Was my dad this tall? Was he thin? What did he like to do?” I learned that he likes our big, chaotic family gatherings on holidays. He enjoys his cousins and would like to know them better. We talked about how, as they all get older, they’ll grow into a different kind of relationship. They’ll be more than cousins; they’ll be friends.

What he doesn’t realize is how quickly that time will come. He’ll be driving before we know it. Having lunch with his grandmother probably won’t be cool then. But he promised me a date in a couple of years—when he’ll be the one to pick me up and take me out to lunch.

All in all, it was a fine afternoon, a great way to start the new year. Time spent that I won’t soon forget. I hope he won’t, either.


Grandsons in action
Grandsons / Gerry Wilson

They grow up, you see, these children and grandchildren. My sons aren’t children anymore, except in my head and heart. I hear their small voices still, calling out in the night. I hear their laughter. I hear their noisy, rowdy selves thundering down the stairs and running through the house and slamming out the back door. I hear their dueling stereos playing across the hall from each other. Now they tower over me. They wrap me in their arms with big bear hugs and kiss my cheek or the top of my head. It seems to me  they hold on a little longer this year than last, maybe because they’re old enough now to know that time goes all too fast.

The same is true of grandchildren. Mine range in age from four months to seventeen years (four teenagers)! They’re all beautiful/handsome, smart, loving, and kind. My husband and I have devoted two door facings to keeping up with their growth. This grandson had me check his height again today. There’s a bit of competition going on with his cousin who’s two years older. This one wants to outstrip the other in the height department, and he just might do it. Give him a couple of years. Give him a blink of time.

Growing up is the natural course of things; it’s what children are supposed to do; it’s what we want for them. Yet it goes too fast.

So this little piece that has now grown well beyond the 500-word target for today is a tribute to “my kids,” grown and otherwise, who make me proud. It’s also a nod to good times and to making good memories.

Because memories are important. Memories last.

My challenge to you: Recall a meaningful conversation or a rare, shared moment. What made it memorable?

Worthy Words: A Peculiar Crossroads

The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location. 

Flannery O’Connor (1925–1964), Mystery and Manners, part 2 (1969).

Image courtesy of samurai /

How profound is this concept, and how true? 

Flannery O’Connor is one of my favorite writers. A master of the short story, she is famous for blending the gritty and the mysterious into as motley a crew of characters as you’ll ever hope to meet.

If you’ve never read her work, I encourage you to sample her stories. Here’s a link to “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” which is often anthologized.

Have you experienced moments in your own writing where—somehow—the real and the mysterious come together? Tell me about it in a comment!

Sunday Wordle: June 17

Here are the words from Wordle 61 at The Sunday Whirl: blend, latch, chest, current, draft, string, crack, spare, temper, refrain, racket, trace, strike.

These words seemed to want to be a poem. Here’s a draft:


Outside, the air’s a rare blend of jasmine

and wood smoke from the grill. My chest hurts

from hunching over the computer too long,

this draft a muddle of temper, a racket of voices.


I need something spare: a bare room, silence,

a crack in the face of time. There’s too much noise

in here; it drags me down its racing current.

I wait for the clock to strike the ending.


Where’s the latch and string when I need it,

a simple exit where not a trace of sense

remains: not jasmine, not smoke, not even this

refrain of words, scrabbling to be heard.

cane chair in sunlight