Sometimes I wonder if the life I lead before I became a parent will ever matter to my son. Sure there will probably be moments to revisit stories from my high school years and perhaps there will be a time to talk about some of the life lessons I learned when I worked in Hollywood. But really, in the eyes of my child, my life began when his did.
I wish I knew more about my Mother’s life pre me. I am thankful that she writes often, but I know there are parts of her story I just do not know.
I got to know a lot more about Millie’s life while I was her caregiver for almost seven years. Her life before being a grandmother, before even being a mother, was something that I had to know in order to help guide her through days where memories and reality were murky. I needed to know about the kitty that got lost in the rain. I needed to know about how my Grandfather flirted with her in college.
My Grandfather documented almost all of his life. He journaled in such a detailed way making notes about what he did during a day and including clippings from newspapers about current events. He wrote about a time he almost died which included his views on the afterlife. He wrote me an essay and sent it to me every week when I was in college. In those essays he detailed different key moments and shared his life in such a powerful way. He later compiled all of the letters into one book for me – it is one of my most cherished possessions.
Writing books was something he had done for as long as I knew him. It was also something that he did before I ever existed.
Recently my Mom was looking something up online about my Grandfather, a date or whatnot, and she found books that my Grandfather had written. They were being sold by various book sellers all over the world and because they were limited editions the value attached to the books were incredibly high.
One of the booksellers in England had a note accompanying his auction for a book by my Grandfather.
“Description: Despatched from UK within 24hrs. Published by Self Pub. in 1968. Hardback without Dust jacket. Condition: Good. Used book but in Good Condition for sensible price. 410 pp. IIlustrated with line drawn maps. Green cloth covers with gilt text, covered with clear adhesive plastic film. Also included is a letter relating to the author and the possibility of series for the BBC based on the book.“
The last sentence was a total WHOA moment for Mom. A series for the BBC? What?
She wrote to the vendor to get more information and he kindly scanned the letter and sent it to her.
The interesting part transcribed:
…and he is currently discussing the possibility of making a TV series based on his book with the BBC…
That’s when it hits you. I knew my Grandfather was a writer but I didn’t realize (for lack of consideration) that he had this entire LIFE as a writer before I was ever here.
What blows me away is that he knew me as a student of theatre and then as a person working in the film industry and yet we never talked about this particular experience of his. It makes me wonder what happened and it makes me want to talk to him.
It makes me realize that as unattached my son might be to the story of me before there was a story of him, I need to write about it. All of it. We all do. All these little moments and details of our lives matter.