I told Danny I was writing a memoir. In My Humble Opinion that took guts. Maybe it was even stupid. We were sitting on the outside porch at my house, having a nice conversation about I don’t remember what, and I tried to off-handedly mention the book and my agent.
Why, you ask? Why did I risk telling him? Why would I do that when I’m afraid of what he will think when and if he reads it? I don’t even think he can or will read it. He doesn’t read anything anymore, not since his stroke – except for French books on the iPad we got him, because they’re backlit and he can make the type huge. He says it’s not fun to read with only one arm and one eye that work. So why did I tell him?
It’s not like the stories make him look good. It’s not like I tried to make him look bad. I wrote my memories, and, of course, the things we recollect, the things that stick out, are the more poignant things. Or the more traumatic things. So what I’ve written about might not be the things he’d want to read about.
We were having a nice time together. One of the first simple, pleasurable conversations we’d had in a while. I was enjoying his company and I think he was enjoying mine. Why did I risk that? And he truly believes (I think) that the worst thing that happened to me because of him is that he left us to live with my mom when we were little. That it was only the Church that made life tough for me. That everything with him was fine.
So, why did I tell him? Because I didn’t want him to hear from someone else. I didn’t want to hide it from him, as much as I wanted to hide it from him. I didn’t want him to not know. And, I thought, maybe, just maybe, he could be excited and happy for me.
“So Danny,” I started. “Do you remember that I was writing a memoir?”
“No,” he answered.
“Well you knew at one time,” I continued.
“And I got an agent,” I stammered.
“Oh. Well when you get me glasses (I had just promised to buy him new glasses as he had lost all his pairs), I’ll read it.
“Oh,” I answered.
That was it. Then he mentioned how amazing it was that I came out of my experience in the Church so relatively unscathed. It was a simple conversation. A quick one. And it left me with questions. How would I handle it if he read it? I didn’t expect, didn’t want, him to actually read it. How would I handle it if he asked to read it? I couldn’t pretend it didn’t exist. That I hadn’t written it. I couldn’t just not give it to him. Well, I could. It’s not like he could get it himself. But I wouldn’t
No, I had decided to tell him about it and I would therefore give it to him if he asked me for it. In fact, I might just print it out and give it to him whether or not he asks me for it. I don’t want to hurt him – and reading the book might hurt him. But I don’t want to hide it.
I love my father. I feel blessed for that. I don’t need him to understand my perspective of what happened. I don’t need him to apologize – although maybe it would be nice. I just can’t lie to him and pretend I’m not doing this. I’m proud of and excited about doing this. Maybe he’ll respond as well as my mother did. Maybe we’ll talk about some of what occurred to and around me, and how it seemed to me. Maybe we won’t. But I told him about my memoir and my agent. Now we’ll see what happens next.
Day at a time, girl. Day at a time. You did the next right thing; now turn over the results…. Remember, if you turn it over but don’t let go, you wind up upside down….
It’ll be fine.
When you wrote about him at Cornell, he read it to everyone at Raouls, and that wasn’t so flattering – but funny and well written.
He might be bigger than you think. For a short guy….
I like that – if you don’t let go you end up upside down. And I had no idea he read my writings to everyone at Raoul’s. No idea at all! That’s way nice to know – I assume that he was proud! Who knew?
Way to go Lisa! Having recently published my memoir, I went through a similar struggle and decided not to share with my family ahead of time. This wound up causing a lot of tension once the book was out. We are working past the awkwardness. It is a tough call as I didn’t want my creative expression to be tampered with yet, I knew I was telling someone else’s story and as you say, probably not the most flattering story. Kudos and wishing you much joy and connection with yourself and those you love.
Thanks Rachel. You told me your story. It’s tough call, and I’m glad I told him!