Wednesday, May 21, 2014


According to The American Heritage dictionary of the English Language, the word clatter means a loud disturbance, a commotion. Now that I’ve discovered it, I intend to use the word at every possible opportunity.

“Let’s keep that clatter down.”

“What’s all that clatter about?”

“Clatterers will be flogged.”

Flogged, another excellent word but I’m only up to the C’s in my self imposed dictionary writing challenge, so we’ll stick with the word—clatter. 

Conventional wisdom says that a successful life should be steady, educated, well traveled, and civilized. Clatter is frowned upon. In fact, when I was newly in college and newly engaged to be married (right out of high school) one of my professor’s expressed her complete sorrow and disappointment in me. 

“I hate to see you waste your mind like that, Linda,” she said. “You could be a CEO of a big company or . . .” 

I looked down at the miniscule diamond ring on my finger and wondered what the crud she was talking about.

I still wonder what the crud she was talking about.

Sunday, I walked into my beautiful home and stopped to listen to the clatter of my family. Out, under the maple tree, my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren waited for me to get home and begin the ritual of Sunday dinner. They were laughing: about crazy kids or nutty jobs or the mysteries of the opposite sex or . . . I don’t know. Does it matter? 

Their laughter flew across the yard, seeped under the door jam, crept through the cracks around the windows casements, and filled up my house—AND FILLED UP MY HOUSE. That, I thought, is what I wasted my life on—the clattering, lilting sound of laughter . . . 

. . . and crying and raging and demanding and griping and joking and all the rest, make no mistake because clatter is a loud disturbance, a commotion.

Later, one of the little boys pretended to pick his nose and eat the fruits of his labors. He did it to make his mother scream. Me too, I screamed too. It was such an awful joke I could hardly think straight. There was a lot of screaming and commotion, which was highly pleasing to any five-year old boy. The clatter was off the charts.

And then I walked out to the office, where the little girls like to “play” school. Zoe (10) and Sadie (5) and Emma (9) were making hand crafted books. 

Sadie looked up with doe eyes at Zoe and said, “That’s so wonderful, Zoe.”

Zoe said, “I want to be a writer just like YaYa and make books.” 

There’s a lot of clatter these days about sacrificing for the common good, giving back, paying fair shares, social justice, and what not. I get that. I really do. Because that’s what I did with my life, I sacrificed for the common good of others. 

Or as I like to declare when people get snarky about stay-at-home-moms, “I’ve been like fetching Ghandi for thirty years. Everything I ever did was for love and not for cash. I’m the biggest socialist you know.”

The payoff? A house filled with the clattering sound of the future and forever.

Linda (The Matriarch) Zern

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