I got brave today and read my dad, Ernest, two chapters of his biography. You say, “How is that brave?”
And I would say, “Have you ever tried to measure up to your parents?” Not to mention measuring up OUT LOUD to the world? It’s scary! It’s not so much about the writing as to making sure I’m telling HIS story, encompassing details and events, with limited knowledge (because he just started telling me about his life), and weaving in interpreted feelings that he rarely talks about….so it’s not easy. Ernest is a “vaulted” man, who is becoming a little less vaulted, but I think sometimes emotion is still a trigger that scares him…
I took a deep breath and read it through out loud with voice and how I heard that voice in my had through my telephone conversations with him.
My own mind tortured me as I was reading. What do you think you’re doing? With your limited writing skills, what qualifies you to write a book, let alone your dad’s life’s book? What if you don’t capture what he’s truly feeling? What if you get the facts wrong or say something that’s not true.”
And then, I thought back to my call to my beautiful writing friend who knows how fragile this journey is for me…She assured me that what I was doing was healing for both my dad and me. And as I talked to her I realized that the writing wasn’t as important as this beautiful journey of discovery that I was on with my dad. Slow down Marie, and enjoy the journey.
I finished reading the last of the chapter and held my breath. I desperately wanted him to like it…no, love it.
There was a pause and then he said, “Well, I don’t know how you did it, but you captured exactly what I was feeling.” I let my breath out and sighed a sigh of pure relief. And then, I felt a smile slip across my face. He assured me that he would assist me with parts that may not be accurate as far as information. He was grateful for the work I did. He didn’t say he was proud, but I knew he was happy. And that, my friends, was enough for me.
Ernest and I…Me and my daddy..are speaking a new language. We are learning new things about each other, finding common ground. Oh daddy, I do love you so, dark skeletons and all. Thank YOU for being brave. Because you were brave, then I could be brave.