Through the years of writing this memoir, I have experienced a change that
is foundation and consequence at once: I now possess some fuller under-
standing of my father’s life and the history he lived through. With that come
both the pain of opportunities forever lost and the relief of understanding
I remember his criticisms, of clothes, aspects of my personality, my emo-
tional outbursts, and even of my body when during early adolescence I be-
gan to gain weight, especially in my stomach.
I remember those private words I whispered when my mother died: Now
I have to make daddy love me, and how as the child of seven I was then — and
for many years afterwards — I fully believed the truth of those words; and
I remember his denial of their truth shortly before his death. But as I write
toward the end of the story, I see another layer. I was seven, living in the
center of powerful unconscious love. Perhaps later on I changed the words
slightly and left one word out, a protection from the guilty pleasure that
over years had to be “forgotten.” Now I can make my daddy love me — best,
I might have whispered in that long ago moment. Memory is notoriously
self-­serving, one truth can exist among others, a story within a story crafters
of fiction know well. This idea itself may be true or only my latest distortion,
but as I write, it comes to mind.
Previous Page Next Page