Writing through the Grief · 2 October 2021

Margie (Matsushima) Miyoshi
(May 31, 1942 – September 16, 2021)

It might seem strange, but writing is a big part of my grieving process.

I do not know how it started but I always need to write something when somebody I know dies. Some sort of tribute.

Often times I think that we do the tributes too late. We ought to write tributes and eulogies before a person dies so that they can hear them. Which is just another way to say that we need to appreciate people while they are still with us. Seems so obvious. I wish I did it more often.

Regardless of when I started writing as part of the grieving process, I know that it is an important part. I process with words. And often music. And so it has been with Mom going to meet Jesus. I cry through the writing. And the music.

I wrote the obituary and a eulogy for my mom. And I was given the gift of a song at her passing. Maybe someday I will share the song with the world too. Who knows. All I know is that that song is stuck in my head. And I know that I am not the one singing it.

Well, I have a lot more to say about writing through the grieving process, but I think that I will save it for later. I really just needed to let the readers of my blog know that I am okay. I am grieving. I am hurting. But I am okay. I know I will see Mom and Dad again in the presence of the Lord.

I also want to say thank you. Thank you to those who have said kind words. Those who have given hugs. Those who are always there. Family and friends are such an important part of going through the grieving process.

By the way. There are few words that are not appropriate when offering condolences. At least as far as I am concerned. Just that people acknowledge that they are sharing in your pain and grief is enough. Words do not need to be eloquent. Sometimes they can even be unsaid. Sharing those silent moments of knowing what the other person is going through can be a powerful thing.

I have more to say on grief and the grieving process, but I think Mom’s eulogy and these few words here are enough for now.

I am thankful for and to my family and friends as I grieve for Mom. And even though it is strange, I am thankful I am able to write through the grieving process.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Be Alert · 25 September 2021

Be alert! After all, the world needs more lerts.

I do not know when I last told that lame joke, but I do know that I like lame jokes. After all, that is about all I can tell. At least when I do tell jokes.

I was talking to a friend and colleague about jokes last spring. Apparently, he cannot tell jokes either. He told dad jokes as warm ups for his classes while we were teaching remotely. The thing is, he could not tell them if he did not have the jokes up on a web browser on a screen that was separate from the one his was using to talk to his students. He is like me. He can remember the setup or he can remember the punch line, but never the twain shall meet. I never knew there was anybody out there like me in that way.

Needless to say, I was relieved when I found out that there was somebody out there with such a joke telling condition. We could commiserate about our lack of joke-telling skill. And as much as we all love being in mutual admiration societies, we all love being in commiserating communities even more. (I like that. Maybe I should trademark Commiserating Communities. Nah. It will never stick.)

I do not really know why we like to commiserate, but we do. Of course, commiserating communities are just proof of the adage, “Misery loves company.” Which is strange in and of itself. Think about it. Why do we love to complain about stuff? Why do we love to talk about the bad things in our lives? Why do we compare our pain with other people’s pain? Why do we like to show each other our scars?

Well, I am not sure why we like to compare our pain to other people’s pain except that maybe we want to know if our pain really is worse than somebody else’s. If not, maybe we really are not so bad off. I do not know. But I do know why we show off our scars. At least physical scars. We just want people to know that we have done stuff. Sure, we might have failed doing whatever we were doing at the time we got the scar, but we tried something great and failed fantastically. At least fantastically enough to get a scar.

But back to joke telling. I felt relieved when my friend told me that he could not tell a joke to save his life either. We could be the founding members of non-joke telling dads. Then again, that is probably where the term dad-joke came from. There must be tons of dads out there who cannot tell jokes. Or who tell jokes so lame that the jokes get thrown in the pile of dad-jokes. Those jokes that get groans instead of laughs. Dad-jokes. Ah well. I am okay with being a founder of the no-tell joke club. Maybe we should call it the lert club. After all, lert is half a joke.

Which brings us back to the beginning.

Be alert. After all, the world needs more lerts.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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I Can’t Stand Contractions · 18 September 2021

I don’t know if you have figured this out yet, but I don’t like contractions. At least not when I write.

I know that I use contractions when I speak. Won’t, don’t, can’t. Well maybe not “can’t.” After all, I’m a coach and I tell my athletes that “can’t” is akin to a swear word so they get pushups. At any rate, I know that I use contractions when I speak. But writing is a whole different subject. Literally. (Looky there. Two word plays in one. Or was that two word plays in two sentences. And is a single word sentence really a sentence? Oh, the horror.)

I’m not sure why, but I don’t like to use contractions when I write. Unless, of course, I’m writing dialogue. (By the way, I like spelling dialog with a ue at the end like it used to always be spelled. DIALOGUE. I think it looks better with those silent letters for some reason.) I don’t even know how not using contractions started for me. I just can’t seem to use them when I write. (Which is also to say that I might’ve missed one or two in this post.)

There is one exception though. Ain’t. “Ain’t” is a great word. Probably because we used to say a little ditty when we were kids.

Ain’t ain’t a word,
‘Cause it ain’t in the dictionary,
So I ain’t gonna say it,
And I ain’t gonna use it anymore.

As a matter of fact, we used to see which dictionaries had the word ain’t in it. The big old ones did. Those dictionaries said it was improper to use ain’t. But they never did say what ain’t was contracting. Think about it. The apostrophe in a contraction usually takes the place of an O. Or at least of some letter. Or even groups of letters. So what did that apostrophe take the place of in the word ain’t?

We thought maybe ain’t was a contraction of am not. But that would be amn’t. Surely amn’t wasn’t a word. Then we thought maybe ain’t was a contraction of are not, but aren’t was already a contraction. Then we figured it out. Ain’t was a contraction of ain’t not. It was just that the apostrophe took the place of the ‘tno in the case of ain’t not. So ain’t not became just ain’t. Simple and brilliant. At least for elementary school kids back in the seventies. (Especially, since we knew that double negatives infuriated our teachers.)

If we’d been trying to figure it out now, we would’ve just looked on the internet. And we would’ve found that ain’t is a contraction of to be not. Boy would we have been excited. We were right after all when we thought about amn’t. More than that, we would’ve talked about those be verbs like our sixth grade teacher taught us.

Is, are, was, were, am, be.

That was shorthand notation. We just had to say “Is, are, was, were, am, be,” and we knew what all the be verbs were/are/might be. ‘Twas crazy. (How’d’ya like that contraction?)

When it comes right down to it though, I like our kid definition best. Ain’t is a contraction for ain’t not.

Well, I suppose I oughtn’t’ve used all those contractions in this short blog post, but I suppose I couldn’t’ve done it without ‘em. Okay. I could’ve. Then again, if shoulda, woulda, and coulda were in the dictionary, I coulda’ve and oughta’ve used ‘em.

I’m not sure where I was going with all of this, but let’s suffice it to say that you can really just replace pretty much any letter or group of letters in a group of words with at least one apostrophe to get a c’ntr’ction. (Notice how I replaced the o and a with apostrophes? Pretty nifty, huh?) Even if’n you shouldn’t oughta do it.

Well, when all is said and done, maybe I do like contractions after all.

Nope. Even after rereading this post, I still don’t. Then again, it is my own writing.

© 2021 Michael T. Miyoshi

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