everyday….. Of Kitchens & Promises

everyday will be a random
posting of daily events or
memories of my daily life
that don’t translate
well into poetry


I should have known when she spent an entire summer weekend dutifully making notations in pencil on the back of every page of a very neat black clasped, inch thck manuscript. Curious, I inquired, thinking it was something she had written. As she slowly wrapped her left arm around the stack of paper, protective like any good editor and gathering it closer as she lay flat on the pull out futon, answering in a very quiet but deliberate voice,

‘It’s Anna’s autobiography, she asked me to read it and take notes.’

I sat there in my favorite writing chair in the room we shared when she sleeps over, mouth slightly ajar and more than a little dumbfounded. Cbear, my daughter was 12 last year.

I guess I should have known then.

Maybe it should have dawned on me a few months later when she had her choice of languages to study, after testing into one of the better high schools that includes a new advanced 7th and 8th grade college prep program.

‘I decided to continue Chinese. The United States and China wiil be doing a joint space venture someday and I want to be there.’

Spoken so matter of factly, I could only stammer,

‘Uh…sure, that makes a lot of sense Cbear.’

We had spoken about the possibility of her learning French and how it might inspire her writing, poetry and the blossoming creative side of her personality. She’s been learning Chinese for 5 years now, about as long as she’s expressed the burning desire to be an astro-physicist. Stephen Hawking is one of her favorite reads.

It should have dawned on me, right then and there.

I mean, how dense of a father can I be to not realize that my little girl is growing up in leaps and bounds so profound I am continually playing catchup, constantly trying to assimilate and absorb this not so sudden reality? Any comparison, any attempt to relate to how I was at her age has long ago become obsolete becaue there is none.

It feels as though I’m flying by the seat of my parental pants, trying to grasp a shooting star.

And it’s not that I’m attempting to hold her back, that would be as selfish and unfair as it would be impossible but….I just keep wondering where these 13 years went, I worry that her childhood is going by too quickly.

I wonder if she feels the same whooooosh! of time that I do.

Cbear lives with her mom and as a child of a divorce is about as well adjusted as you could expect a kid to be. There are the inevitable day to day details I really regret missing over the years with our every Wednesday, every other weekend sleepover arrangement, but when we’re together we talk about stuff, real stuff.

She and I have always talked, our conversations began when she was very young as my way to resolve conflict, when she occasionally misbehaved and needed some guidance and direction. It was very purposeful, a night and day difference in how conflict was so called ‘resolved’ when I was a kid, the back of the hand injustice I was given as guidance by my parents.

And if there ever was a conversation that
crystalized just how grown up this 13 year
old daughter of mine is now, it is the one
we had a few weeks ago standing in the
kitchen of our apartment after school.

Soon after moving into Scout’s apartment, we did an assesment of what we now owned together. With both of us being good cooks fond of our own special pots and utensils, the large but poorly designed kitchen that held promise, needed a complete redesign. I cooked professionally for 4 years, and being borderline OCD I designed it to resemble a restaurant kitchen, lots of stainless steel, almost everything exposed, organized and easily accesible.

Every utensil, pot, saute pan and dish had its own place.

I took the entire kitchen down to the studs on the walls and floors and started from scratch, doing most of the work myself. The project took about 6 months, and there were days we wondered if we had bitten off more than we could chew.

But now all these years later, our kitchen like kitchens in most people’s homes is the hub of ours too, the place where the day to day life of our family begins and ends, where lists are made, food is shared and conversations had. Ours is not a sit down kitchen with a table, but it is very comfortable with a large counter where we sit and eat, work on laptops, and chatter about our day.

And if you’ve been to other people’s homes for a dinner or party, the kitchen is usually where all the adults eventually find themselves, the magnet of proximity to food and beverages is just too appealing. So in retrospect, it was fitting that Cbear and I had this converstaion in our kitchen that night.

I knew the minute she began talking this was no ordinary conversation, turning off the burners on the stove I turned around to face her eye to eye, heart to heart because what she was telling me needed every bit of my attention and careful consideration. We spoke for about an hour, I listened a lot, I asked questions and she was as direct and truthful and matter of fact as I’ve ever known her to be. After I took her head in my hands, kissed her forehead as I always do, we hugged for a long time before she returned to her bedroom to resume her homework.

I stood there for a long while letting the warmth and wonder of the moment wash over me, shaking my head some, tearing up a little too. I thought about the first time this person, this now young adult and I first met, in the delivery room after the horribly traumatic ordeal of the emergency C section had subsided, where it was very touch and go for both her and her mom, when the nurse finally handed me this tiny bundle of blankets with a baby inside, how tiny this new life felt in my large hands and the truly beautific smile the nurse had on her face as she told me my daughter and her mom were healthy.

I can recognize that tranquil, clear eyed matter of fact innocence now, it was there when I looked in her hazel eyes that night, as i kissed her forehead for the first time and just before the nurse came back to take her to her mom, the promise I whispered in her little ear, that the injustice I experienced as a kid by hand and from the mouths of my parents, would never be experienced by her. Ever. It would end with me.

And I stood there a while longer, eventually turning on the burners again to resume dinner for us both thinking about promises, that we don’t hear or read much about them these days, these days of instantly unfriending someone, where divorce is so commonplace that more than half of Cbear’s schoolmates are living in single parent households, where commitment and devotion seem like such an ancient concept.

I made two promises early in my life, one I broke staying five years longer than I should have in my frst marriage, a marriage that had become loveless, and in hindsight a promise made to fix what my parents broke, my childlike attempt to repair my own family.

I kept the promise I made to Cbear, easily the most important thing I’ve ever accomplished in this life and the woooosh! of time brought me such a profound and divine humility and gratitude that she wanted our living arangements to change,
that she wanted to spend more time with her dad.

We decided a week here and a week with her mom would be best for all of us, and during the first week we were talking about stuff again. I’ve been revealing a little about my life to her when I was sure she was ready. We were looking at old photos of her when she was a baby and I told her of the promise I made to her that night as I held her for the first time.

And I could see it was she who was listening quite intently this time, and when I finished she looked at me eye to eye, heart to heart and said,

‘Thank you dad’,

and we hugged for a long time, right there in the kitchen.
everyday….Bucket of Glads

48 thoughts on “everyday….. Of Kitchens & Promises

  1. You are both wonderful. I’m happy you have each other. Beautiful story. Sincere and heartfelt, as always.

  2. K. A. Brace says:

    WT, this was very well written and poignant. >KB

    • KB, i think you know by now what it means to me when you comment on
      one of my pieces, ty. and writer to writer, it feels as though i took
      a little leap forward writing this. i haven’t felt that in a while,
      i think you know what i mean having written as long and as well as you have.

      • K. A. Brace says:

        To be honest WT this write was thematically light years ahead of you last which was very self indulgent. This piece showed you but as a conciously feeling person as opposed to the ‘poor me’ of the last one. I only say that because when I went through my Divorce I needed to make sure that even though I talked about my pain I was careful not to make myself victimize myself. You have no reason to feel less than what you are. A gifted well controled writer of prose. I don’t read much prose on WP but I always read yours because I get a sense of who you are not what you are. That is because the writing is so good. I envy your ability. I have no mind for prose. I don’t even like to write when I have to. I like the short attention span a poem calls for and would rather do four or five poems in a day than one page of prose. I am glad that you feel you can converse with me please do continue. >KB

      • hi KB, sory for the delay in responding but i came home and fell right asleep, uugggh Winter!

        i’ve had a little time to digest what you’ve said here…’gifted’?…well, geez, i’m not sure
        what to say but ty, ty so much for that. that really is setting my fire for prose much higher
        than it’s ever been. i wrote that in one sitting that night, and that’s never happened before
        considering the length of this piece and emotional complexity involved.

        this was my last prose piece, so i think you must be reffering

        to this one…right?
        i’ll wait for your answer before i reply.

      • K. A. Brace says:

        Yes the one about graduation. But to pause, it is only my opinion. I much prefer your persona of strength than that of your weaknesses. Even in your relating events of your neighborhood there was a sureity of presence that fits you so well. In it though you relating things hasppening you were able to remain above it all just as in the piece with your daughter. You were relating it from a view point of always relating the experience of having learned something before stating it at the end. I guess I’m saying I like it better when your timidity is related as a past thing now gone because of the strength it gave you. I didn’t get that in the graduation piece. I want to cheer for you, not feel bad for you, no mattter how bad things are related. I think that is where your strength as a writer is in your ability to spreak from a point of strength and dettachment while still being honestly involved with your subject. I speaks of a real humanity. >KB

      • ok, i understand what you are saying KB. a few things….

        1. it was easy to remain above the fray in the Brooklyn stories, though i was
        in great danger from Johnny, Tony saved me, he was a dangerous man but ultimately,
        for his own twisted rationale, a very good friend to me.

        2. not so my father, not in any sense. and to be fair but not defensive, both
        those stories were written over 2 years ago for different audiences, and edited
        only when i recently posted them. The Walk Away was a catharsis piece, written
        in my 15 year old voice when i belonged to an abuse survivors group and we told
        our stories. so the target audience was quite different.

        even so, as a story, as a telling of events as they were, i believe there is much
        to cheer about in the end. a 15 year old ultimately standing up to his father
        is a profound event in anyone’s life as it was in mine. i doubt i’d be who i
        am now if i had not.

        so it’s probably a mixture of an immature writer and writer’s voice in that
        piece, i can see it, i knew it wasn’t my best writing but as i’m learning,
        everything we write, isn’t our best. but, at least so far, i think this one is
        and i appreciate that validation KB.

      • K. A. Brace says:

        We’ll always be learning. When you stop, everything stops with it. >KB

      • there is no DOUBT about that. and if i’ve learned anything in this life
        that translates to my writing is that i will always reach a little further,
        take another chance, not be satisfied with ‘what is’.

        complacency is the death of Creativity.

      • K. A. Brace says:

        Don’t take this the wrong way but you never seem to comment on my poems. I am not offended in any way by that but is there a reason for that? >KB

      • oh i appreciate your honesty in asking KB, and i’ll be just as
        honest in my response. i know i have in the past when i think
        i’ve ‘gotten’ what you’re words are expressing. and i’ll fall
        on my own sword here, i have a very dificult time
        deciphering poetry, it does not come easily to me at all.
        please remember i’ve only been writing poetry since April
        this year, i’m as raw a reader as i am a writer of poetry.

        these days i’ve taken to letting a poem simmer for a while,
        and i’ll go back to it, read it again a few times.
        try and understand it then. honestly, KB, it’s out
        of respect for your poetry that i don’t just write
        a throwaway line.

        i hope that helps a little….

      • K. A. Brace says:

        I am more interested in your response as a reader than as a poet quite honestly. I try to write with a reader in mind who knows nothing about poetry, may not even like it. It is the human response, the visceral I’m more interested in than any profundity of critique. >KB

      • ‘I try to write with a reader in mind who knows nothing about poetry, may not even like it.’
        not that i would even venture towards a critique of anyone else’s work, but this is
        important, certainly something i didn’t know. as someone who writes from the heart i’m
        trying to digest how writing from this perspective would affect my poetry. i think i need
        to think on this a little KB. ty for telling me.

        but in the meantime, i’ll try and be less timid and over cautious,
        because i know i am with your work.

      • K. A. Brace says:

        Just say what it says to you. No big whoop. Part of the problem with writers is that they think other writers don’t want to hear what they have to say. I don’t think that’s true. Of course it all depends on how it’s said and I guess you have to feel the writer out. Some have thin skins because they are unsure of themselves and don’t want to admit it. Everytime I post a piece I anm unsure how it will look to another person. I know what I think but what I think is imaterial after I hit “Publish”. So many writers think that what they think is what’s important instead of thinking the what’s important is how you say something. What’s the point of writinbg if not to communicate what you’re thinking as opposed to being confused and in your confusion trying to obfucate that fact. If you’re going to write anbout being confused don’t make what you’re writing confusing with gimmicks. >KB

      • KB, i’m glad we’re having this conversation, glad you told me what you have,
        i think our relationship is important and has taken a leap forward today.
        and i guess i’m tracing my caution with you back to our first conversation,
        when you said you were a very private person. i’ve respected that, maybe
        a little too much apparently lol!

        i’ve got to get ready for work, feel free to e mail
        whenever you want, if you want. i’d enjoy that KB.

      • K. A. Brace says:

        Ditto. About writing nothing is private. >KB

  3. A beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

    • hi Skye, you are most welcome and ty, ty so much. this piece means so
      much to me on so many levels, thatmy daughter will be with us so much
      more….well, there’s no way to describe that joy.

  4. SirenaTales says:

    Good morning, MasterWho. Thank you for sharing this delicious and satisfying feast for the soul: powerful, lovely and honest. You have made me guffaw, moved me to tears, and warmed my heart. As much as I admire your poetry, I find this piece to be one of your most potent, employing effectively the complexity of the extended cooking motif–both mundane and transcendent–as a vehicle to offer a wide array of emotion, information, humanity. Really love this. It is a magnificent, yet gentle, tribute to some lovely, vulnerable, triumphant spirits. Yeah, baby! Xo p.s. I didn’t realize we share a love of cooking….sadly, my kitchen is still pre-renovation after 20 years here, but is still the warm heartbeat of this home.

    • yes, cooking was going to be my last vocation, that was the plan until the
      bankers crashed the economy. i would have had my own little cafe by now,
      i had backers all lined up…oh well as they say!

      ty so much Sirena, this was a very long time incubating, and i have to say when i
      finished it this morning i felt an incredible weight lift off these shoulders.i
      finally decided on the kitchen/cooking vehicle to tell this story and i’m glad,
      and if i can very humbly agree the more i read this, it might just be the best
      writing i’ve done. that’s how it feels anyway, it’s certainly the most important.

      your comments are a short story in themselves, i love them , ty. Love and Hugs to you

  5. Lee J Dawson says:

    It’s lovely that you and your daughter share such a close and loving relationship.

    ‘It feels as though I’m flying by the seat of my parental pants, trying to grasp a shooting star.’ That’s a great definition of being a parent!

    • heh, that sentence came out of no where last night, i’m so glad
      you liked it Lee. honestly, i think we all feel blessed, divorce
      usually doesn’t end this well, especially for the children.

      ty Lee for your kindness and comments, i really do appreciate it.

  6. Chess says:

    Awesome memory 🙂

  7. charlypriest says:

    Seems that the apple didn´t fall that far away from the tree in this sense, you´re a great writer-poet, and your little one seems to be not great but somewhat of a genius on what she wants to pursue, and it seems to me that if at this age she has so clear what she wants to do and is already going in that direction, well…people with that type of personality tend to focus on their objective and work their butts off to achieve them. Keep in touch I want her autograph when she becomes famous.

    • CHARLY! ty, ty, ty for understanding the AWE that i have with my daughter,
      as i would with anyone’s child who demonstrates this much clarity of vision this young.
      i’m glad it’s not just me…heh, had a conversation with her homeroom teacher when i
      picked up her report card last week..a 4.0 GPA, the highest score in her grade in a
      very competitive school. she said she would have the pick of any college she wanted to attend.

      yeah, she’s definitely on her way, and this story is part about me not getting
      in her way, saddling her with so much ‘STUFF’ as my parents did to me.

      • charlypriest says:

        To me too, and probably that´s why I turned out to be somewhat of a rebel, but can´t blame them at the end they do influence you but it has to be you who decides what type of life you want to live in. So don´t get in her way encourage her talent even though it has nothing to do with yours…but you already know that.

        By the way that slap of the hand on the head, those where the good old days, but it did work for me from time to time when I got smacked because of some mischief I´d probably did.

      • well, i wish i could say it worked well for me but i can’t, there is old fashioned
        slap on the butt and then there’s a point where it crosses the line, that’s what
        i experienced. so my promise to her was to never even get close to that line, i’ve
        never even raised my voice to her in all these 13 years.

        her mom is a math teacher, a Mensa member and the brains in the outfit! lol
        i’m the creative side of her personality, she draws, paints, writes poetry,
        plays piano and sings. has perfect pitch and is considering songwriting now.

      • charlypriest says:

        Sorry didn´t know that part, one thing is a little slap another thing is…what you experienced. They say kids that have abusive parents turn out the same as their parents, I say it´s up to that kid as he grows and develops his or her own personality to decide what route to take. Seems you took the good route, happy for that and probably that´s why your kid is going to turn out fine to say the least.

        A math teacher and a Poet for parents….she´s got the best of both worlds.

        I was raised by a single parent although dad did provide on the money side, but as I´v grown older I stopped blaming him long time ago, at the end of the day it´s on you what route you wan to take in life. You have to take responsibility for your own actions and stop blaming every other soul out there.

      • ty Charly
        ‘They say kids that have abusive parents turn out the same’
        yes, and that’s the real fear we have, that we live with as parents,
        and that’s part of what this story is about, the overcoming, the
        decision NOT to take what i was taught and pass it on to her.

        unfortunately, many parents don’t learn.
        it was my decision to end that chapter in my
        family with me.

      • charlypriest says:

        ty to you my friend.

  8. Laura Bloomsbury says:

    you have an even but slow paced narrative that must make you a good person to talk with – will stand you in good stead as your daughter gets older and flies to the moon. Thank for sharing these intimate moments in your impressive kitchen

    • hi Laura…heh, flies to the moon, i think she’s got her sights set on Mars!

      and one on one, i guess i’m very easy to talk with, it’s always been what i’ve
      enjoyed the most with people, especially her. and with so many parents complaining
      that they know so little about what their kids are feeling and thinking, i believe
      you’re right, i hope her and i continue to have talks about ‘stuff’

      ty for being here and leaving such a lovely comment
      on what is the most important piece i’ve written to date.
      it means an awful lot to me Laura.

      • Laura Bloomsbury says:

        Yes it was a very emotional piece and written without schmaltz – a hard line to tread p.s. do they speak chinese on Mars? maybe that will be the spacerace outcome!

      • ‘without schmaltz’… that is SO appreciated Laura, although i try my best
        to live ‘in the Moment’, i don’t write well about what i’m experiencing
        ‘at that moment’. i need the emotional dust to settle, and write through
        the lense of time and some reflection, ty, so much for saying that, i think
        restraint is a profoundly important ingrediant in writing.

        haha, well, if they don’t now i think they probably
        will be speaking Chinese at the rate things are going!

  9. only a few words – Dad’s and their baby girls….no relationship is quite like it – this was beautiful hugs to both of you ~ smiles

  10. Wonderfully heartwarming to read. I’m so happy for you and Cbear. Your relationship is priceless. Cbear sounds like a remarkable young woman…which comes as no surprise. 🙂

    • hi Melanie, ty…’young woman’, that’s exactly what she is, i’ll have to begin
      incorporating the new vocabulary lol! and yes she is quite remarkable, and now
      i’ll get to see more of it everyday! how blessed am i?

  11. You’re a daddy that sees into her soul! I’ve a dad that doesn’t even remember my birthday so, keep it going, LOVE IS YOUR MOTOR! Blessings Friend ~Faithfully Debbie

  12. My father and I are each a mirror held out to the other. Your writing here makes me miss him achingly, and I’m so grateful that I get to see him in less than a month.

    • good morning Gunmetal Geisha and very warm welcome to you.

      i’m hoping the relationship, the friendship my daughter and i
      are now developing will flourish so that she can feel as you
      do when she gets older. i’m happy for you, there is a special
      bond between father and daughter, it’s a profound gift to have
      such a relationship in my life. i would imagine your dad feels
      it too, about you.

      ty for being here this morning, i’m glad these words could remind
      you of your dad. that means a lot to me.

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