My dad was a thief. He stole words from literature to use as weapons. I remember dodging and weaving to avoid his barbs, although some still found their mark.

Having ducked Oscar Wilde’s “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing”, I later flung it at my own children. Different words became shields to strengthen character, fight injustice.

On the day he passed, I excused myself with, “we need never be ashamed of our tears”, Charles Dickens. Dad countered with “Herman Melville, Moby Dick.”

I had to read the entire novel to find that farewell quote.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
8 months ago

How clever that move was. You and your father are clever enough to use such a quote of knowledge as a weapon in raising your children. You are not just making them learn, but you are preparing them to face the world with knowledge and power. 

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
8 months ago
Reply to  Mary Wallace

You’re welcome, Mary.

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
8 months ago

What an intriguing story, Mary. I’ve read it several times now, looking for clues to the enigmatic title. The dad doesn’t seem to be coming from a place of humor, but instead he seems caustic and even cruel. That parting shot from Melville is not really a laughing matter. I looked it up and was taken aback. I won’t quote it here – that would be giving too much away! We all know that Captain Ahab was not a nice man, probably not even a sane man.

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Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
7 months ago
Reply to  Mary Wallace

Ah, Mary. Your comment to Carrie finally explained the title to me! It too is a quote. Wow. What a literary family. I skipped reading Moby Dick in high school – just the discussions about it gave me shivers. No wonder I didn’t understand the title of your most excellent story.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

I had to look the quote up too; I cheated with a Google search though ?. Interesting story.

Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse (@marianna-pieterse)
7 months ago

Mary, I agree with Fuji, I also got the impression that the Dad in your story did not say anything with humour in mind. Especially considering the line, “I remember dodging and weaving to avoid his barbs,…”. You managed to tell a lot about the father and child’s relationship in a few words! Well done.

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

What an interesting and indeed different story, Mary! And how strange to be that well read, but using one’s knowledge of literary quotations as “weapons,” like an intellectual warfare. It reminds me of the expression ‘like the devil reads the Bible.” I love the three quotations you are using!

Daisy Blacklock
Daisy Blacklock (@daisy-blacklock)
7 months ago

This was an intriguing story. I really loved how you opened it and how you used the quotes to add to your amazing story. The title had me a little puzzled at first until I read these comments and now I understand where all of it came from. Good job Mary!

Daisy Blacklock
Daisy Blacklock (@daisy-blacklock)
7 months ago
Reply to  Mary Wallace

You’re welcome.

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