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Daddy My Original Muse
by Stevie McHugh
10/28/05
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My dad knew where to find the nectar of life, as if it were on a bloom-covered honeysuckle vine. A well-respected newspaper man, he was my original inspiration to become a writer. Dad adored and doted on his wife and three children, me being the youngest. We were the sweet fragrance that filled his nostrils, and we all knew it.

On a modest salary, Daddy provided us with a nice home; and we went on a fun-filled vacation every summer. How did he manage that? Not being similiarly gifted with financial wisdom, I can't even imagine!

Another quality about Dad that I marvel at is how he shared his deep appreciation of beauty. He surrounded us with it in our yard. We had mimosa trees that evoked images of Hawaii with their flowerage of pink brilliance. Our lovely plum tree produced a delicious annual harvest as did the grapevine that graced the trelis shading our backyard swing. A fitting metaphor of a half-wanted child, there was a weeping willow tree near the front door that came alive in the breeze, a welcoming friend waving joyfully to the tomboy who climbed in its branches.


The chain-link fence in the backyard was completely obscured by brilliant green shrubs on both sides. Along the back there was a wall of silvery pampas grass. It was taller than Daddy, with long, slender blades that could easily cut tiny fingers; and it had off-white plumes pointing toward the heavens. They resembled long, fluffy dusters.

Dad's love of writing, I think, was a natural by-product of his inherent respect for this beautiful world and the people in it.

When I was 10 years old, Dad taught me how to type on a wonderful, antiquated typewriter. When I pressed one of the round keys, a tiny metal arm leapt up to strike the chosen image onto the page through a cloth ribbon. Typing is a skill that has served me well. Thanks to my nimble fingers, I became a court reporter with relative ease. That was years after Dad had passed away, when as a young woman I lacked the courage to follow in his footsteps and become a professional writer.

Visiting Dad at the Orange Leader was always a treat that I savored. As the copy editor, Dad had the largest office and the biggest desk, which was circular and had a slanted wooden base and a white countertop. The pencils he used to do his work were fat, orange, and eraserless. Typing sounds were almost constant as news spewed out of ticker tape machines in a room that you could see through the glass wall behind Dad's desk. The smell of his office was an irresistible combination of ink and newspaper and photographs being developed in the darkroom nearby.

In setting up a room in my home for my new business, Just Write Copy, I've attempted to create an inspiring ambiance, complete with lovely plants and reminiscent of Dad's newspaper office. I am even trying to find some of those chubby editing pencils like he used. They may be a thing of the past, though, as is my lack of courage to pursue a writing career.


If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp  01 Feb 2006
Ditto the "other" commenter; didn't comprehend the willow tree statement; however, nice musings of your father. I thought you were a guy, as the name Stevie isn't exactly feminine. But I liked this story, but not as much as the "angels being questioned by God" in your Challenge article on "Start". I still think of God calling Simon Cowell's angel on the carpet for his mouth! I'm still smiling.
Karen Crump 01 Nov 2005
Your daddy would be proud! You got the touch. There is one phrase in your essay that I do not understand. I am sure there is something behind it, but I am not seeing it: "A fitting metaphor of a half-wanted child, there was a weeping willow tree near the front door that came alive in the breeze, a welcoming friend waving joyfully to the tomboy who climbed in its branches". Explain a bit in the re-write. Excellent piece, though!




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