I have always resisted the urge to write a memoir. Other than a few chapters, my life has been pretty ordinary. What would I have to share? It is also intimidating for me to put my memories on paper because they are so subjective. How broad is the gap between what really happened and the way I remember it?
Ian Cron says, “Memoirists work with bones. Like paleontonloists, we dig up enough of them to make intelligent guesses about what a creature looked like a million years ago. But here and there a femur or rib is missing, so by faith, with imagination, we fill in those gaps with details we believe are consistent with the nature and character of our upbringing.”
If I were to give it a go, this would be an exerpt:
As I sat in my reading chair finishing up this week’s assignments my mind wandered 30 miles east and nearly 50 years back. Staring through the screen door I reflected, still in disbelief of all that had happened. There were no sounds of children or laughter or any of the ruckus that had become the soundtrack of my life for so many years. Only the music of indy crooners, the squeak of the rocker, and the hum of a Mercury light perched on the corner of my single car garage.
I am the product of World War II parents who were children of the depression. They deeply believed in God and country. My dad, Tom, grew up on a farm far from any city. He had a volatile relationship with his father who was a barrel chested man that came home regularly from card games with an empty wallet and an angry disposition fueled by cheap beer. Tom’s mother was the antithesis of her abusive husband. Short and saintly she was a humble servant to her family. My mother Joyce, grew up in the same community and was the daughter of a local farmer. Joyce Davis fell for Tom Harvey the minute he entered the drug store where she worked as a soda jerk. Tom had just returned from the China/Buhrma/India theater of the war and she knew that this was the man she would marry.
Life was simple in our home. Obedience was expected. Respect was essential. And church attendance was not negotiable. For most of Tom and Joyce’s four children, this formula worked quite well especially the youngest, me. I grew up with a strong sense of value and values. My goals were to get along with others, do my best to please God, and not to disappoint my doting parents.
Back in the rocking chair I could easily recall my parents’ faces but I struggled to hear their voices. I can’t reproduce the sound. I can’t help but wonder what they would say to their promising child who became a pastor but was not a pastor anymore. Who was viewed as successful but had to leave in embarrassment. Who made more visits to the courthouse than they ever dreamed of. Who was married to his college sweetheart but isn’t married to her anymore. Who seemed to have so many things going for him but isn’t sure he does anymore. Would they say anything? Would they still be proud? Would they treat him the same even after his many failures.
It is not easy to live a life based in performance where you wonder if your every move is not only being evaluated, but impacting your position in God’s eyes. These were the things dancing with the shadows in the den that night.