Five years ago my dad died and I’ve come to discover that he was actually the invisible glue that made us a family.
My dad was older than my mother by nine years and that began to show as they moved into their golden years. Dad was content to stay home, watch TV, feed his birds, and just generally, putz around the house. Mom, on the other hand, was—still is—in constant motion. She’s either golfing, going to the movies with a friend, playing bunco—she was in four groups at one time, or just getting together with someone.
Dad was never the one to call us to check in on us, Mom did that. Or we checked in with them. But Dad was the one to cook a big dinner and then call an impromptu gathering. “Hey, I cooked a pot a beans, you should bring the family over.”
And we’d come. Dad’s cooking was worth giving up any plans for. Plus, the members of my family are my favorite people—the ones I laugh the hardest with and enjoy the most.
Once he was done cooking, Dad settled in his chair to watch TV while we cleaned up the kitchen, played Phase 10 at the table, and chattered. Our husbands usually joined Dad in the living room around the TV and the kids—my two girls, and my sister’s two boys—found something to do, my oldest usually joined us at the game table while the three younger ones played together.
Birthdays followed the same routine, we picked our favorite dinner and played games while Dad watched TV in the other room.
Then he died. Just like that. The last time I saw him was on my 47th birthday as my parents left the next day for a trip down to Arizona in their fifth wheel. Dad had a heart attack the night before they would’ve driven home.
After he died, it was hard for my mom to have family gatherings at her home so we started doing the birthday teas. The only thing is--that those teas are for Mom and her girls, although Jordan has discovered how much she enjoys them so she comes along now. Kristen has come to one as she’s not a big tea drinker and her work schedule conflicts with the events. But the guys don’t come. It’s not a true family event anymore.
And there are no more spontaneous dinners. My dad was the cook, not my mom. Plus, two years ago, my mom downsized into a condo and all of us barely fit into it. The only guaranteed time that we are all together at my mom’s is on Christmas Eve.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and how it pertains to our writing. Who is the invisible glue in your story? I don’t think it’s always the main characters. That’s why I’m calling it the invisible glue—it’s the unassuming character who adds substance to the main characters.
In Bix’s story, I think it is Frank the Fed. He’s the one who brings Bix to Cypher and he’s the connector to the rest of the characters.
In my current WIP, I think the glue is going to be Minnie, the elderly next door neighbor of the heroine and the grandmother of the hero. Her story will help Emma—the MC—learn to love and accept love.
Who’s your glue?