|Dad, around 1965.|
I say this today with a lot of gratitude. It's an intense writing time for me, working on several books at once, with each one approaching Life from a different angle. The most directly personal is a memoir that I'm gradually building, each chapter created when I have time for it, in an online publication called Medium. It has a "pay wall" but you can access quite a few items before it will ask you to ante up. (So far, my biggest paycheck from writing there was $1.09, for a month of labor. I guess I'm not one of those wealthy writer types. But I love being able to share the material.)
You already know that writing changes with time -- the hope of any writer is that it gets better, gets more "worth reading." Maybe we forget that it also has to be worth writing. And that's where yesterday's writing surprised me with an enormous gift:
I adored, and still deeply love, my dad. As a kid, I never questioned his opinion; as a teen, I wrangled with him about the Viet Nam War, but his knowledge always overswept mine (though my sense of what was wrong and right grew in power).
When, at midlife, I found myself in recovery from alcohol abuse and trying to clean up some major messes, I tried to hold my dad to account for some things he'd taught me about being a woman, that had resulted in, to put it kindly, an Epic Fail. He laughed at me and made a rude joke. It was one of those unforgivable moments that life hands out sometimes: someone I idolized, making me smaller.
Yesterday's memoir piece, which dealt with my college escapades, also framed some "life instructions" my dad provided. How amazing it was to discover that I'm no longer enraged at what he taught and said! Learning more about his life, especially his childhood as the Nazis overtook his birth country and turned him into a refugee (an identity that I never associated with him when I was a kid, honestly; he was just smart, educated, funny, and all-powerful of course) ... well, I have learned what History does to people's thinking and to the soul. And somehow, in all that learning:
I learned to accept and forgive my father.
Looking back, I don't think that was on the goals list for Advanced Placement History class. Guess I learned something more this week. Glad to be paying attention.