Searching for truth and other fallacies

I signed up for a workshop on writing the memoir. I hope it gives me the impetus to put together the little snippets I’ve written into some kind of order.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years, although I’m not sure anyone would want to read it — perhaps my grandkids on some distant day — but there are other reasons to look back and reflect.

For one, there is a need to sort out vague impressions and put them in some sort of perspective. What was important as a child might seem meaningless now.

My Dad, left, and my Uncle Herb. My dad was always a fancy dresser.

The opposite is also true. What seemed unimportant to a childish mind that can’t see beyond nuances looms greatly when you realizes its impact on your life years in the future.

How much of what we remember is absolute fact and how much is distorted? What did we really experience and how much is memory implanted later on and made a part of our own story?

When we had family get-togethers over the holidays, we kids were dismissed after the meal and the grown-ups sat around the table, talking, laughing, remembering. Of course we listened, soaking in the stories. We never dared interrupt to ask about a detail the adults shared with knowing smiles or grimaces, but never put into words. The stories were absorbed in our consciousness to become part of our memories, never experienced in actuality but so real that they merged seamlessly into the tapestry of our lives.

With the passage of time, our memories begin to fade or sharpen. Some details stand out, others are forgotten like the photographs I put away for safekeeping, never to be seen again no matter how long or hard I search. I recall one of my grandmother, dressed up  in a man’s suit and hat and acting the fool. I couldn’t believe that sour, bitter woman ever laughed, but here was proof that she was once young and carefree. Does knowing this alter my memory of her? Of course it does. In this instance, she becomes someone I wish I had known. It changes my perspective. I wonder what happened to change her so drastically, and I begin to sift through things I saw and heard over the years that now make sense.

Other events that I either never questioned or gave up asking about have come to light in the past year or two. I say, “I remember…” and my older sister replies, “No, here’s how it was…” We are talking about the same event, but seeing it through different lenses.

Some things she shared are things I wish I hadn’t known. They alter beliefs I have held to all my life, but also make clear what I didn’t understand. They are sad, heartbreaking, and yet explain so so much. In a sense, after eight decades I have finally lost my innocence.

If I write a memoir, do I write only of what I knew for certain at that time in  my life, or do I write from an older and wiser view, seeing now what I didn’t see then? And does it matter?

I suppose it does. To me.

 

 

 

 

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Paper Crow Blog
    Jan 09, 2019 @ 19:37:52

    I love your thoughts on writing a memoir. It is fascinating to think of our perception of the same events changing with time. Regardless of which route you take, you’ll still write with the wisdom you’ve accumulated over time, which I think is great. Good luck!

    Reply

  2. Sandy Bruney
    Jan 10, 2019 @ 08:42:02

    Thank you! I began as a way to show my grandkids what life was like when I was their age, but amazingly, it has given me insight into my own life.

    Reply

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