By Cait Collins
I received a telephone call from my dad’s youngest brother on Monday to let me know my Uncle Bob had passed away. We talked for over an hour about the family and the good times we’d had over the years. Then he asked me how my writing was going. I told him about my projects, and he said, “I want to buy a copy of your book when it’s published.” I have no contract, but my uncle is confident my book will sell. He has no idea how much that confidence means to me.
Uncle Gene told me, “Your dad was a very talented writer. I often wondered how far he could go if he’d been able to get a college degree.” I agreed Dad had talent. I’ve read some of his writings. They are the beautiful words of a simple man. His short story about his father’s death and having to grow up and support his mother and youngest brother touched me deeply.
I do believe we received some writing genes from Dad. My Number 3 Sister is a talented poet and writer. She has taken ideas for special events and created fun poetry. She has also written memorials for friends and family that never fail to bring tears. Sister Number 6 would take her Bible stories and turn them into poetry. The kids loved them. Sister Number 5 writes professional presentations, and she can really help with that all important resume.
Dad never allowed us to just get by when writing. He read book reports and corrected our grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If we failed to properly represent the book, we had to rewrite the report. I guess you could say Dad was my first critique partner. He made me do my best.
As I am writing this Outtake, I realize the best way to honor my father’s gift is to share his legacy with others. And when I’m asked to judge a contest or critique a story, I will not allow the writer to slide by. My critiques will be honest, but professionally given.
And for my uncle who is so proud of his big brother, I’m going to make copies of some of Dad’s stories and send them to Uncle Gene. I know he will treasure the words.