In 2009, my father began writing his memoirs. I will never know what sparked his desire to do so, other than to share family history with his children and grandchild. Perhaps he already felt that his memory was slipping and wanted to record as much as he could before the memories faded completely. Whatever the reason, these 8 chapters have become a lifeline for him.
Covering the details of his grandparents, his parents, his birth, all the way through to his years in the Army and early engineering career, he weaves the anecdotes of his life into a fabric rich with candor, humor and lessons that would serve him well his entire life.
Shortly after he wrote these 8 chapters, he emailed them to me, asking me to take a look at them and share my thoughts and edits with him. In the day-to-day busyness of life, I promised to do so, but never quite got to that item on my to-do list. We never discussed them and perhaps for that reason, he never continued writing. Or perhaps it was becoming too hard for him to remember and write. I’ll never know for sure.
Now, as dementia has set in, my mother and I sometimes struggle to engage my dad in meaningful conversation. So, a few weeks ago I opened up those 8 electronic files, printed them out, and brought them with me when I visited Dad at his memory care community. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been reading a few pages at a time. As I read to Dad, sharing his own story in his own words, he brightens up and listens intently. He begins to remember people, places and activities he’s not thought about for years and shares his recollections.
At at time when we struggle for things to talk about, these 8 precious chapters enable us to connect in a new way. I have no doubt that we will continue to read these same chapters again and again. My hope is that sharing these memories will exercise his brain, keep us connected and give us all some peace of mind.
Thank you, Dad for another beautiful gift.