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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Don't Cut off Your Nose to Spite Your Face" (without using the actual phrase or litera (02/14/08)

TITLE: A Dark Memory
By Tim Manzer


Did you ever sing, “Over the river and thru the woods, to grandmother’s house we go; the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, thru the white and drifted snow, oh?” My family sang the song in July as we traveled through the many fields of corn, soy-beans, sugar beets and golden wheat that filled the thumb of Michigan. When we went to the family farm my parents packed the car full of suitcases, sleeping bags, peanut butter sandwiches and four excited kids.

Going to grandma’s home was the highlight of summer vacation during my elementary school days. Grandpa was a farmer and his place was a country delight of climbing in the barn lofts, feeding Holstein calves, making forts in the hay, drinking Vernors, taking tractor rides, chasing barn-cats and playing with my many great cousins.

My family believed in packing the tiny farm-house with as many relatives as possible. When it was time to sleep you just climbed into an open spot on the floor and giggled till you fell blissfully to sleep. I remember the smells! The little brown ranch filled with the aromas of baking bread, fried chicken, bacon, homemade apple sauce, pot-roast, sweet corn, strawberry rhubarb pies and fresh farm pickles. I remember the fun and the simple joys of family life on the farm.

Yet, there is a dark and confessing memory from my childhood. This memory is very inconsistent with the Mayberry type memories of my upbringing. The day began with anticipation. We were waiting for another family to arrive. They pulled their crammed car into the farm’s circle driveway and unloaded their travel wary bones.

Sheiks of delight filled the air followed by a family hug session. My uncle, a tall and athletic man joined into the circle of welcoming hugs and kisses. He got to my mom and hugged her and then declared to everyone, “Hey your sister is beautiful. You look great Marlene!” Then he spoke directly to his faithful spouse “What happened to you! Look at your sister! How did you get so fat?”

There was no response from anyone. Just shocked silence followed by everyone helping them unload their car. I remember thinking that someone ought to kick the big bully.

As I reflect back to that dark moment, I have enough life experience to realize that I observed verbal abuse that was never confronted. As the years have passed, my aunt and uncles’ marriage had a constant diet of callous put-downs, condemnation and disapproval. After many decades the poisoned relationship imploded into isolation and then an ugly divorce.

Somewhere along the way my fault-finding uncle forgot that he was suppose to love and cherish his wife as his own body. Instead he selected contempt and scorn as his brutal marriage language. His disdain produced a harvest of emotional rot and relational destruction in his own life.

In the book Sacred Marriage, the author Gary Thomas instructs couples to have contempt for contempt in your marriage. I learned that I need to hate anything that brings dishonor to my beautiful wife. I’m trying to hate all nasty cut-downs, shameful marriage jokes, dishonoring statements and judgmental comments that dishonor her. Please join me with this pledge to make our words, the words of life that nourish our mate’s soul and encourage them to live out the abundant life God has called them to live.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/22/08
Yes, I think many families have a relative like that...how sad.

A few word errors: "suppose" for "supposed", and "sheik" for "shriek". And be careful of slipping into 2nd person as you did in the 3rd paragraph: you have a few "you"s that should have been "I"s.

I like the juxtaposition of the happy memories with the darkness of your uncle's contempt. Very effective.
Joanne Sher 02/23/08
The contrast between the pleasant and the bad is very good. Good descriptions especially.
Marilyn Schnepp 02/23/08
The topic is the only thing I find missing...otherwise it is a beautiful "down Memory Lane type story". Perhaps it's just me, as I seem to be the only one that doesn't see it. Guess I'm dense. (*.*)! But I enjoyed the lovely story, and the point is well taken.
c clemons02/27/08
I loved the memories of the grandparents farm, brought back memories of my own. I did not however see this week's topic. Keep writing.