Sad moments come and go. Happy moments do the same. And which do we remember the most?
Maybe we recall extremes of both sides–the time I received my first true “A” on an essay, or the night my grandfather died on Christmas Eve. Everything else is fuzzy, a half-true, perhaps malleable under the force of our powerful minds–those moments we know happened, but the details have long since vanished, and we bend and shape our imagery.
Which would we like to remember more? I have trouble answering the question, because there are two important, necessary truths: good moments energize us and keep us moving; bad moments deplete that energy but strengthen our being. But if we remember sad times as well as we remember the good, we become not unlike a rechargeable battery.
Now faced with a long-term pain, my dad and I have learned to energize our depleted stores. It’s part of human nature to adapt, and that’s what we’ve done.
My dad and I irrigate conversations with laughter every time we talk on the phone; it shows in letters, too. Glazing reality feels good, because it doesn’t have an opaquing effect; we see and feel the pain, but we also live that “silver lining”. It does wonders for our lives–no lie. Not everyone possesses optimistic tendencies, but we do; and I’m DAMN thankful for it.
I was surprised by my reaction when my dad told me that Louisiana has a “Squirrel Season”, where permitted residents are allowed to hunt squirrels like dear or turkey: it was believable. The South is an entertaining place; living in Northeast Texas for many years offered a detailed glimpse.
And yes, we had a 15-minute conversation about shooting squirrels.
With my dad, it’s always about anecdotes, and he wasn’t short of any with the start of Squirrel Season. He said he could hear gun fire in the distance. He detailed one moment, describing a silence of arms and then a sudden, thunderous lash of a firing squad. “They musta cornered one,” he said. I laughed a deep laugh, and it lasted for a minute; he laughed with me. We’re good at recreating sound effects, Casson men are; the imagery, coupled with sound, was wonderful.
We stopped our conversation after he told his squirrel massacre story. It’s a funny recollection. Weeks pass, and we don’t talk to one another–I’m not the best son, considering I’ve sent just ONE letter since he surrendered his rights. And when we do speak, for a short 20 minutes, it’s all about the good things, the funny things.
My dad made many mistakes in life, but he made many more great decisions. One was teaching me how to stay optimistic, even if he wasn’t saying it directly. He lead by example; people don’t usually do that, especially as parents. But now that I think about it, he’s a writer at heart, and one of the most important lessons in writing is to show, don’t tell. Telling is forceful and overwhelming, at times; showing gives more power to the interpreter. It’s surprising how smart people can appear, if given a chance–I was given that chance by my dad.
Laughter is one of my few necessities; laughter is one of his few necessities. We’re simple people.
When friends comment on my smile and my laugh, or my ability to light the darker parts of life, I say, “I get it from my dad.”