I was on my iPhone yesterday talking to my daughter-in-law, Emily, about writing. Most of my life, many people have said that I should write. Yes, I wrote letters to my sisters, my mother, and friends. And when email replaced snail mail, I wrote emails to my sisters and friends; my mother had already passed on. My mother, Mary Constance Connolly, would have loved this iPad that I write on now! My mother always wanted to be a writer. I have a short story she wrote while taking a writing class in New York City when she was in her early twenties before she met my father, before WWII, before my sister, brother, and I were born. Before she had seven children. Before my father left us and she raised us on her own. Is this beginning to sound like a miserable childhood?
Emily is a writer. She said to me yesterday that I should write about my miserable childhood. That she envied me my miserable childhood. Emily is an only child with two very loving supportive parents. She said people love to read about large families with many siblings and lots of troubles. I pondered that; and then I remembered “Angela’s Ashes”, the Pulitzer Prize winning memoir by the late Frank McCourt. McCourt writes, “It was of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while”. And then I looked at this old, wrinkled, black and white picture that I have on the mantle above my fireplace in my living room. I saw six smiling children (Anne had not been born yet)… and a dog.
A miserable childhood? Did I have a miserable childhood? You bet I did. But would people want to read about it? And why? Why do people enjoy or at least appreciate reading about the miserable childhood struggles that others have endured? It can only be a story worth the reading if there is some humor to alleviate the misery, and if there is triumph over adversity, if there is perseverance and eventual success. Otherwise, its just a miserable childhood. And who would want to read about that? I wouldn’t, would you?
Morning musings by Mary. To be continued…