Tag Archives: family memoir

Perception. Not In That Way.

I read Stick, a book from Andrew Smith. It’s incredibly powerful and relevant. So much so that I felt compelled to email him, tell him how much the book and its characters meant to me. I haven’t felt that way about a book in quite some time. Not since Janice Galloway’s The Trick is to Keep Breathing. Not since Wilson Rawls’ Where The Red Fern Grows (Andrew, I am so with you on this. I’ve read this book at least a dozen times).

The book brought up all sorts of different emotions and memories. But there is one particular memory. One having to do with what my sister and I had to wear for church growing up. It wasn’t just that we had to wear nicer clothing than the typical garb, but that we had to wear it a certain way.

To him, we had to show the others at church that we were dressed up. They had to see it. And a t-shirt or a pair of shorts spoke of carelessness and non-conformity and being not too serious about the reasons for being at church.

To him, it was about the image we presented–to friends, to acquaintances, to strangers.

We had to (were often forced to) look like a tight-knit, well-oiled machine; perfectly happy and cohesive and strong.

And I think we were in certain ways. Certain, and small, yet meaningful ways. But not in the way he wanted it.

Not in that way.

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The Day I Stopped Eating – Volume Five

As I alluded to in Volume Four, I am better for having experienced it. The attempts to mediate the marriage, the depression, the weight loss and near death – these are experiences I’ve gleaned much from. The marriage, regardless of my irrational attempts to save it, was heading for the drain. And I ask myself if I would have changed it or done it differently – or not at all – if I had a chance to do it over.


For a moment I’d like to put aside the underlying martyrdom or pseudo masochism in that  statement, and focus instead upon the practical consequences if I hadn’t tried anything.

To preface, I will say that I am fully aware that my attempts were all for naught. Even when they had to work together to figure out how to keep their son from dying, and while they shared in their general desire to keep me alive, they differed in their respective assessments and approaches.

So I think about the practical consequences if I hadn’t tried anything, if I sat idly by. Would I be the same person I am today? I can’t be sure. I do know that the things I had gleaned and learned make up a great deal of my philosophical take on the life one lives, the inter-relational dynamics they experience and build upon, the religious understandings they abide by, the social constructs they fall into, and the like.

I wonder if I had been more removed from the madness of it all, if I would have a different view of my father. Of my mother; if I would be less a critic of my dad, or less a default (often to a fault) supporter of my mom; if I would feel differently about adultery and its impact on the family; if I would think differently about Christianity, about God; if I didn’t give off the impression that I am the resident relationship guru; if I would be less patient, less guarded; if I would fear less the colloquial understanding that kids take after, and often become, their parents.

So I wonder, and I ponder, and I muse about it all.

I am happy. And if that experience had something to do, on any level (which I am certain it had), with my state of happiness, I am grateful. Because, at the end of the day, it’s really all about how one learns, how one gleans, how one assesses and reacts to the people, the experiences and the world around us.

See previous installments with Volume 1, 2, 3 and 4.

You See? I Am Happy. Happy With Leg Kicks and Beaches and Adorable Dogs.

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