I love to write. As most of you who read my blog know. It’s been nice to write and share my words when for many years I wrote only for myself, mostly in journals.
When I serious about going back to university (what that meant for me and my family) I looked online to see what the requirements were to apply. Along with all the application process, they also required a 1,000-word sample of my writing among other things. This excited me and scared me all at the same time. I really had NEVER written for others. I didn’t even know if I could do it but are here are my 1,000 words I’d like to share with you now…
The wounds they leave behind
by Kaylynn Rasmussen
He hated his first name—Earl—so everyone knew him as Brent.
Brent had two brothers, one older and one younger. The three boys had a loving mother and father, Avis and Owen. Owen loved Avis and Avis loved Owen. It was love at first sight when Owen saw Avis jumping around on the sidelines at the big high school football game. He was the football hero and she was the pretty cheerleader. See where this story is going? After graduation, they married, settled down and God blessed them with three boys. Owen felt like the luckiest guy in the world. He was hard working, adored his boys and his sweet Avis very much. He treated all his boys the same. Owen would take them on long drives and the boys would go down to the fishing hole where they would fish for hours until it got too hot, then they would all jump into the water (and then it became the swimming hole). They would come home to Avis filled with laughter, love, wet clothes and sometimes fish.
Owen was a police officer. He got to dress in blue and wear a shiny badge and within ten years made the position of sergeant. Everything was how it should be. Summers were golden and the days lasted forever and life couldn’t be better for Brent. He loved his brothers, loved his parents, did his best in school and hoped one day to dress in blue himself and wear a shiny badge, just like his dad. The boys got older and activities and interests changed, but never the love this family had for one another. As life just happens sometimes, when everything seemed perfect, tragedy struck this sweet little family. On a not-so-special day in May, Owen had been conducting surveillance of a suspicious vehicle and received information that it belonged to a robbery suspect. He stopped a man and woman who approached the car and began to question them. He handcuffed the male suspect in the front and was going to take them to the police station in his patrol car but the car would not start. Instead, he drove the suspect’s vehicle. The male produced a .38-calibre handgun from the back seat of his car and shot Owen in the side, and the couple ran away. Avis was called and told to meet them at the hospital. A friend and colleague, who knew the family well, picked up Brent’s older brother Bill from high school. Poor teenage Bill found out his father had died over the police radio on the ride to the hospital.
Bill was now assuming the role of father for his two younger brothers. He stepped up when life called him and he was there as a strength for his sweet mother. But Brent withdrew into himself. He never got over losing his dad. Brent continued to go through the motions of life but he grew up in the shadow of his perfect older brother. When something this big happens in a family, everyone is affected by it. So the loneliness that stirred inside of Brent started coming out in the form of anger and resentment: resentment toward his brother Bill; resentment towards his mother; resentment towards life in general. They talked around him as though he was not present. He did not feel accepted or included. Depression finally caught up with Brent, however, remained undiagnosed as things often did 60 years ago.
Then one day Brent was out mowing lawns to earn some extra money over the summer and he saw a beautiful girl. His heart fluttered when he saw her. Her name was Carol. She was beautiful, popular and had the best smile he’d ever seen. Brent loved Carol and Carol thought she loved Brent. They got married and started a life together. Bought a small house and filled it with children, five to be exact. On the surface, things seemed to be okay but Brent would have unexplained psychotic breakdowns that became more and more frequent. Brent also became very controlling and paranoid. No one could see what he was going through. He was not easy to love, he was different and needy. Brent didn’t even love and accept himself or believe he was of any worth. If he had not been so drawn into himself and concerned with his own problems, he might have focused on what was great in his life and maybe things could have been different. Afraid and unsure, Carol filed for divorce when the youngest child was just five.
Brent was now living alone without his family and his Carol, the one thing he found that gave him hope. He called his kids daily and made plans on the weekends but it was hard for them. They didn’t understand his sadness. With all of the power the small children could muster, they couldn’t cheer him up and he was often too sad to keep to the plans they had made, leaving them feeling sad and lonely as well. They loved him very much but unfortunately, that was not enough. Brent’s thoughts turned even darker, creating a never-ending pattern of falling into a dark pit of which he felt he could not get out. He couldn’t express the great pain and sorrow he felt in his life, and he just wanted the pain to go away. He started to feel that everyone would be better off without him.
After surviving another sleepless, lonely, dark night, on a cold winter’s morning Brent got dressed in his church clothes and drove to the church where his family was. He found Carol and gave her a letter. Carol had had several of these letters before over the years. They were filled with hurt, blame and threats. They were cries for help but after so many of them, they became more like empty threats. He gave her a big hug and left. Carol sat down to read his recent letter…this one seemed different. Later that same day the doorbell rang and two men dressed in blue with shiny badges greeted her with some sad news.
On December 14, 1986, Earl Brent Farley took his own life at the age of forty-nine. Brent was survived by his five children aged 11, 14, 15, 19, and 21. His youngest son was the same age Brent had been when his father had been taken from him. All five of these kids have suffered from depression at some stage in their lives. I am the 15-year-old daughter. I have missed my dad all of my life. Even when he was alive he was not really here. I love him, I miss him and I wished that things could have turned out different. I wish I could share my husband and two beautiful kids with him. Wrap my arms around him and tell him how much I love him and ask him to please stay with us.
My dad was never a grandpa here on earth but I take comfort in thinking of him smiling down on all of us and his 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
We are his legacy.
I knew I had beautiful words inside me but I didn’t know how to get them out of me.
Before I wrote these words, I nervously sat at my computer not knowing what to write. Whatever I wrote would be read by others, these words would determine my fate. Would my words be good enough? As they would be my first impressions. Were they good enough to be read by others who could decide if I had the beginning skills of a writer?
…then my dad seemed to whisper to me and I started writing his story.
My dad helped me go back to university, these first 1,000 words got me an interview, through that interview I was able to show them my sparkle. Then for a few weeks, I held my breath until I got my acceptance letter. I couldn’t believe it. I was going back to university after 25 years. I was accepted into RMIT’s Professional Writing and Editing course. I started February 2016 and I have not looked back…
I do want to say that my dad was a grandfather before he died, to my sister’s oldest, my niece who made me an aunt. He loved her and doted on her, as we all did, but for the ending of my story, I changed this detail as it rounded off the ending nicely.
Love you, Dad ♥ Love you, Grandpa, that I never knew here on earth ♥ I smile at the thought of you two together in heaven.
Thank you to my siblings who lived this journey with me and our beautiful mother and all her amazing strength! ♥