Loss and New Obsessions and Why I’m Going to Dayton

I am gearing up for a trip of a lifetime – this is bucket list kind of stuff. On April 5, I’m going to Dayton, Ohio, for a long weekend. DAYTON! I know you’re envious, but I have dreamed about going to Dayton in April for sometime. Something very special happens there every two years. Something worthy of the trip. It’s the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton, her alma mater.

Erma Bombeck – 1927-1996 – She continues to warm hearts and make people laugh. (photo credit http://www.humorwriters.org)

Erma, yes, I call her Erma, has been my humor-writing heroine since I read her quote, “The grass is always greener over the septic tank.” Dave Barry’s and her writings have been my rewards for learning to read! When I heard about this workshop, I knew it was my destiny. I brought it up with my friend, Roxanne, and we immediately planned to go – that was almost two years ago. You can read Roxanne’s blog here. (I’m her fairy blog mother and I promise to take good care of her in Dayton).

All that to say, the rest of this blog post is something that I submitted to their writing contest last year. Out of over 600 entries, mine didn’t win. I was shocked and mildly dismayed – mainly because Dave Barry was the final judge and I just knew he would want to read my work. Since I don’t think my entry made it that far up the food chain, I’ll put it out here on my blog. I’m fairly certain that Dave follows me and will be kicking himself for missing out on the chance to crown me winner, but I digress. So, here you go, my entry entitled:

Loss and New Obsessions

I’ve gone through a lot of changes this past year. My daughter and her family (including four grandchildren) moved away. My dad died in October. And I became obsessed with Chick-fil-A.

Why now, Chick-fil-A? You know I’ve never been there for you. I’ve even publicly shunned you. Yet, you beckon me to come. You hold no grudges. You just give.

My visit was capricious. My expectations were low. Now I’m questioning everything. Am I trying to fill the voids in my life with crunchy chicken perfection? Is the pickle hiding on the bottom of the bun teaching me to welcome the unexpected into my life? Or am I stuck in a rut like a phonograph needle on a scratched record, trapped in a chicken-fried groove until I have the energy to walk over, pick up the needle, and move on with my life?

I am thankful that this obsession didn’t arrive sooner. If those four grandchildren lived here now, my drive-in budget would explode.

I will admit there is relief. In the past, I tried to hide my apathy toward Chick-fil-A. I would eat at McDonald’s in secret, internalizing the shame of being a church-attending, family-loving carnivore with a seemingly heathen palate. Hallelujah! My guilt is gone.

Only now I have new issues. Where I used to applaud the organization for being closed on Sunday, I struggle with where to eat after church. I openly wonder if Mr. Chick-fil-A has forgotten about the after-church crowd who supports him six days a week. What about us?

And then I think about my dad. Dad would not agonize over these types of things. He would just take us out for milkshakes and burgers. And we would have a great time because we were together. It really didn’t matter where we ate at long as they served a good milkshake.

On Saturday nights when I was a kid, Dad would be hunched over the blender making milkshakes. There weren’t fast-food restaurants. There were barely restaurants at all. It was rare for my mom not to cook a meal. Dad’s hand-scooped milkshakes were a treat. It has been a long time since Dad could do things like that. It was hard on him to accept the limitations that came with being 94 and blind, but my remembrance of him is not confined to those last years – they won’t define my memory of him. I’ll recall him in the kitchen serving up a thick concoction of ice-creamy fun.

Thinking about that makes me smile. Maybe I’ll get out the blender and make a shake in honor of Dad. Who am I kidding? I’m heading to Chick-fil-A.


Leave a comment


  1. Vanessa

     /  March 20, 2018

    Congratulations, you are a winner in my circle of writers. I ordered my book (my daughter did for me). Thank you again for good reading material.

  1. Happy Meal, Happy Writer, Famous Author – Part I of my Book Signing Fun | Life on the Lighter Side

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