What do you know about the family members who came before you? Do you care to know? It’s so easy when you’re young to dismiss those folks in long dresses or black suits and unsmiling faces, or even them more recent ones with polka dot dresses as being old fashioned and not like you at all. I felt that way. I didn’t know and I didn’t want to know. It didn’t sound to me like there was a good story there.
But there was…and is. A friend told me recently that she was given a diary that her father kept for much of his adult life, a record of his inner world through a war and three marriages. It was written in a foreign language that she was fortunate enough to know.
What are you getting from reading that, I asked her.
Intimacy with my father, she said. On the outside he seemed one way, a robust man who was full of zest for life and not too concerned about how other people were affected. In his diary I see his introspection, his concern to not hurt people, his vulnerability. It makes me feel closer to him, and that affects how I feel too.
I welcome comments from your own experience of learning the stories and secrets that were not part of your prior understanding.