Elizabeth Sloan has a jarring experience for our contest

Good Day to you all from the Towers!

Thanks to Elizabeth Sloan, I have discovered that a lightening bug is not a creation of NSA. Elizabeth, you may recall, was neck-and-neck with Kristy Webster as a finalist in our previous contest. Here is her first entry into “A Dozen Roses from a Single Thorn: A Valentine’s Day Love Story.

Lightening Bugs

by Elizabeth Sloan

Dear Momma,

No, really. I finally get it. You know, that “one day you’ll appreciate me” bit. If I hadn’t waited so long before becoming a mother myself, you might have heard these words ten or twenty years sooner. I have actually said to your granddaughter, “ I won’t live long enough for you to appreciate me.” She just rolls her eyes.

For a few of my teen years, I was not a very nice daughter. I stomped up our carved mahogany staircase more than once, stalled at the landing only long enough to shout down, “I hate you mom” (but it was only a rumor).

I’m sure that hurt. I hope you had enough mother-sense to realize it was just my adolescent brain lashing out, spewing ingratitude more often than is reasonable.

You used to say that if something happened to me because of a missed cue during your watch, you couldn’t live with yourself. I’m sure I rolled my eyes. When I became “of age,” it was up to me to take heed for my chosen risks. I get that now, too. I did release a sigh of “Oh, thank goodness” when my little one turned 18, for that very reason.

I wear your wedding ring. If the day comes when my daughter joins her life with another, the ring is hers. I am only the keeper of the stones for the time being. A band of diamonds set in platinum; a symbol of commitment that Daddy chose for you without help from anyone else, as you were pleased to know.

Soon after you passed the ring on to us, I looked closely around the inside and discovered the miniscule engraving with your names and the year you married. The finger band is worn so thin from more than 60 years of day-to-day life, it is almost a miracle the words have not been polished away.

When I was back visiting, not long after Daddy died–the air was deep and heavy in the humid night–the diamonds flashed and sparked like a family of lightening bugs.

What I remember about lightening bugs is how your mother told us that when we stuck the bugs’ lights to our fingers like rings–a trick we’d been doing all summer long–they died. It was a quick lesson in growing up, and we stopped wearing those florescent yellow lights on dusky Midwest evenings. We still caught them in glass jars and let them light our way, but only for a while.

I appreciate you, Mom, in ways that can’t be explained, like bugs that light up the night sky. Because of you, I take feeling safe for granted. I know you understand what I mean, just as one day I hope my daughter, too, will understand.

The name for this is love.





5 thoughts on “Elizabeth Sloan has a jarring experience for our contest

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    Ah, finally a real valentine letter story to begin the contest with. Ms. Sloan has given us this true valentine from her heart to a single person who made her life possible. “Lightening Bugs” is love told from a daughter to her mother after years of not getting how precious a mother truly is. The passage of time here within these tender words are linked by the symbol of a jar of lightening bugs. We ask ourselves why time has changed us so much yet we are the same as the children, the teens, the young adult and finally the parent ourselves. Here those moments are clarified with grace, with tender apologies and most importantly from the heart. Well done rich with emotions, Elizabeth Sloan, making your mother proud I am sure. How do I know this? I know because you touched my heart as well and I am but a reader of loving hearts.

  2. Ken Weene says:

    Very loving letter that shows how the generations of a loving family can pass that love along even when the individuals have themselves passed.

  3. Michael Stang says:

    I wrote a children’s book once about Doobies. Lightening bugs that glowed red hearts that could excrete the power of love over their bandits. In a good way, this story mirrors some of that, but there is so much family, so deep the heart. Love it. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Stars Fall On My Heart says:

    Part of the human condition is that we don’t always appreciate what we have; it’s a symptom of our human tendency to want more. It’s what gives us the drive to make life new and better, but it also prevents us from seeing what we have in the here and now. I can’t say it’s something that requires forgiveness–only understanding. The mother in this story is so lucky that she realized that at all–most people don’t. Lovely read <3

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