A Man Of Letters

Relying on my brain to keep mental notes is just shoddy record keeping. I try to remember a million important things and it turns out I've been using invisible ink the whole time. I should start writing things down, like my Dad does.

A few years ago, my mother mentioned that for several years, my father had been keeping a journal. I was surprised; atrocious penmanship and the love of a good Scrabble match aside, he never seemed the writerly sort.

I'm not sure what he writes about. It could be about what it was like growing up with a fraternal twin or how he was on a Scouts camping trip when the news came that his mother had died. Maybe he writes about how tuberculosis confined him to a hospital bed from the ages of 16 to 21 until he was cured or he might just stick with the bigger questions - how could he possibly have managed to help create 8 rotten children and only 1 good one?

I'll make a mental note to ask him for more details when I see him next.


Cup said...

You're lucky, non-rotten child. If you ever get to read it, you may discover things about your father you never knew; wish my dad had written a journal. Maybe you can convince daddy to start his own blog: Passion of the Pater-Dale.

Andi said...

I keep asking my mother to fill out one of those little memory book things that asks questions about the kid years, the old years, and everything in between. My grandmother did one, and we found out lots of fun things about her after she passed away by reading that book. As of now there's been no filling out of the book by my mother, so I've told her that isn't allowed to die until it's done.

SlayGirl said...

Thanks for sharing these details. I always find the details of peoples lives fascinating. Btw, I take it you were the only good child?

Fact about me: my hand writting is atrocious (somewhere between a third grader and a serial killer I am not sure which) which is why I type:)

jin said...

I have to write notes CONSTANTLY & I'm a LOT younger than you are Dale!
;-) *Teeheeeee*

Seriously though, heads roll around here when I lose my notepad!!!

Anonymous said...

After my mother died in 1997, my Dad and I found her 'alchobiography' (which was written whilst in rehab after the 1987 housefire she caused)
You may be pleasantly surprised at what your Dad has to say. I never knew how my Mom felt about me or any of us kids until I read it. It was well written and very moving. I would love to find it and tell her story one day.

Anonymous said...

That's nice of you to say that your sister the teacher is a good one.

But seriously, when I read your posts, I fall all over myself in my praise and adoration (at least in my head, if I don't actually say it to you) about how great your writing is. In one stinking paragraph you said so much about your dad! I hate you and your skill! I love you and your skill!

Now come over and finish editing my book for me!

Reese said...

Yes, I'm wondering who the good sibling is, as well. Can't be Dale. He was surely the one who short sheeted all the beds in the house ;-)

Gretta James said...

Parents are the funniest of creatures. I think you definitely need to have a read of whatever he writes.


lulu said...

Just because he is writing it, doesn't mean you will ever see it. My mother writes and she has told me that she plans to confine to the flames anything that is personal.

She also has every letter she ever sent her first (and possibily only) true love. When he was dying of cancer last year he tracked her down and sent them all back. I really want to search her stuff for them and read them, but I can't make myself invade her privacy like that. Plus, shes really good at hiding things.

Katie Schwartz said...

what a fascinating discovery. I can't believe your father was confined to a hospital bed for 5-years. how that must have changed him. 8 rotten children? please... no way. impossible!

Dale said...

I guess he's sort of an old school blogger isn't he Beth? And thanks for recognizing that of course, I'm the good kid in the bunch.

Those books are a great way of finding out a lot of little things that people might not always talk about Andi. Make her sit down.

It's funny Slaygirl, I've got decent handwriting as do some of my sibs but my Dad and a few of the other kids, it's nearly indecipherable at times.

The heads roll when you lose your notepad Jin or when they lose it on you?

That's an incredible thing Bluez. Sounds like some very hard times and it must be a powerful piece of work. You should follow it up.

Okay Tanya, you know that thing on page 52? Nobody will care about that and while you're at it, scrap the whole of Chapter 4. Remove the 3rd paragraph on every 8th page and randomly rearrange the rest of the pages. That's how I write.

I was the quiet one Reese although I seem to be getting louder all the time. Next reunion, those sheets are getting it.

My parents are probably on par for crazy with everyone else's parents Gretta but as the stories find their way out of me, we can all reasess.

Lulu, as morbid as it might sound, I asked my mother if I could have
them and she asked him and he said yes. I'm not anxious to read them but I'm a little curious. That's an interesting thing about your Mom too, maybe she'll change her mind or get sloppy with the hiding places.

Pretty ridiculous isn't it Katie? He's such a good natured sort that he took it in stride at least until one of his legs shrunk a little causing him to limp. My mother was told by a fortune teller once that she would marry a man with a limp. It's just a slight one that nobody would notice but he's got it.

Melinda June said...

You absolutely should read his writings, and make sure they get preserved. Two of my grandparents left writings behind, and it's really given me a sense of who they were. And explains a bit of who I am.

Even if he's just writing down his to-do lists, it will be revealing.

Chancelucky said...

Wow, seriously intriguing. One of my friends' father had spent his early adult life writing poetry, something he gave up after he started his family. After he died, my friend wound up with a shoebox full of poems (many of which were very good).

It's often funny how we don't know the people we assume we know in some significant ways.

Coaster Punchman said...

Well, all I can tell you is that my dad has been writing his memoirs. He emailed me a few of his earlist installments. One told a story of how he and his good friend in high school hitchhiked to New York to see Pablo Casals. Along the way they were befriended by a guy who offered to let them stay with him. They took him up on it, but were surprised in the middle of the night that this gentleman was expecting more than a proper "thank you."

I was horrified, and asked him not to send me any more for now.

Dale said...

I'm not sure what it will tell me but I'm sure it will be interesting MJ as my dad's not a big talker. I hope it will explain some things as well.

Chancelucky, it interests me greatly too as I try not to make assumptions but still manage to come up with judgements. The poems sound like a nice gift for your friend.

Nothing like picturing your dad in that type of situation to spook you is there Tom? I think we think we're the only ones that have or have had adventures sometimes.

Old Lady said...

You are writing stuff down now!! Just a different way. Ask him to leave his journals to you.

Anonymous said...

If your dad's journal is half as interesting as his son's blog, you and your family can look forward to some good reading one of these days.

Dale said...

I did that Old Lady and someday they'll be mine.

It had better be at least half as interesting Holly, or I ain't reading it. :-)

jin said...

Off topic but,
sitting in bed last night(morning?) at 4AM flipping channels, of course I go to BBC first, & what to my wondering eyes did appear, but the Catherine Tate Show!!!
I squealed with delight & said to my husband, 'This show is AWESOME! I watched it on Dale's blog!"

(I thought this would build your self esteem. Make you aware of the fact that some people think of you while they're in bed. Sort of....hahaha!!!!)

Tumuli said...

Interesting reading, for sure. But I doubt it would best your blog. :)

Dale said...

Glad to oblige Jin, I feel extra powerful now.

Very nice of you to say Tumuli. I may have to have a handwriting expert help me sift through it to figure any of it out.

Will said...

LOL, I'm presuming you're the non rotten child. Maybe he's writing elegant essays about his wonderful son.

Dale said...

Can't you just tell I'm the best one of the bunch Ben? :-) I wonder what he's up to that old man.

justacoolcat said...

So that makes the nun rotten?

Which would make you a Saint,that is if your trip in a handbasket is over booked.

Angie Pansey said...

Your dad sounds cool! Does he know of your blog? Your great writing and encounters with crazy peach lady would make him proud.

chelene said...

Nice post, Dale. Except I'm not sure if a child who was hit by a truck three times can reasonably be called the good one...but whatever you say.

Dale said...

She's about a medium on the rotten scale Justa. The handbasket is filling up fast, hop in.

I've not mentioned the blog to him but maybe I will just for the fun of the confusion that will dance across his face. Oh wait, I'm pretending to be the good kid. Maybe I won't mention it.

Just because people keep trying to kill me Chelene isn't necessarily indicative is it? Well, I guess it could be taken that way.

X. Dell said...

Well, hopefully he sees you as the good child, not your schoolteacher sister.

One of the things about some people is that you never know how deeply their thoughts ran until you see their writing. I'm betting your dad might surprise you were his journal to become known.

Then again, it could be something on the order of "October 21, 1952: Ate a continental breakfast today."

It's interesting, but yesterday's journal keepers and diarists remind me of bloggers. Couldn't you just see Anais Nin's page in your mind's eye?

Dale said...

I'd like to see Anais' blog with pictures or at the very least drawings X. Dell.

I figure Dad's thoughts do run a bit deeper but whether that comes out on the page or not will take some time to learn. He's also got some 'splaining to do.