Reading Memoirs

I don’t often read memoirs/autobiographies. Mostly I see them as a way for the author to figure out her/himself what happened when. Or why they did what they did, or as a way to justify/explain decisions made at various points in life.

There seems to be a serious trend by more than just the occasional public figure to write about their life. The celebrity thing I understand but don’t really get. As for everyone else, to me it seems that the retrospection and access to what someone now thinks what caused something else then means that the facts are still interpreted through a lens changed and marred by time.

Perhaps it is because I am more interested in what is going on now; what I am doing now than what I did then or what is already over. I draw from the idea that one goes forward with life. You can try and explain what has happened – but it doesn’t change the fact that time passes and not all the presents that life hands us are ones that we would have wanted to experience.

Or maybe the naval gazing writing is the providence of 70+ year old women and so I am spared having not yet reached that exalted age. Add to this the fact that I don’t think anyone at all would be interested in how I see my life backwards so I find a bit of hubris in those who do make that assumption.

What took me down this path was two fold. The first was George being handed a chapter out of a memoir in progress which covers part of the time he was in Berkeley at Law School, worked for the Sierra Club and was the treasurer for a candidate for the EBMUD (East Bay Municipal Utility District). Admittedly, I appreciated her campaign poster – the current board photo (five elderly white males in three piece suits photographed well in a library type setting) vs Helen who was barely over thirty with a wild head of hair.

(yes, she was elected and served ~20 years)

The other is reading Diane Rehm’s (no relation to my George) On My Own where she talks about the time during her husbands terminal illness, dealing with long-term care, and then surviving life as a widow. Most of it is pretty blunt but there is quite a bit that is whining, self-serving and frankly like she is the only one who has ever had to face life’s serious challenges. At 78 (when she wrote the book) she was still employed full time, financially secure and with children and grandchildren. Yes, she has her issues, yes she will have to face retirement.


Go check your public library. Check out electronic books. You can read different things without spending money. Sometimes you strike out, other times you will find fantastic things to read.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Holly

fiber person - knitter, spinner, weaver who spent 33 years being a military officer to fund the above. And home. And family. Sewing and quilting projects are also in the stash. After living again in Heidelberg after retiring (finally) from the U.S. Army May 2011, we moved to the US ~ Dec 2015. Something about being over 65 and access to health care. It also might have had to do with finding a buyer for our house. Allegedly this will provide me a home base in the same country as our four adult children, all of whom I adore, so that I can drive them totally insane. Considerations of time to knit down the stash…(right, and if you believe that…) and spin and .... There is now actually enough time to do a bit of consulting, editing. Even more amazing - we have only one household again. As long as everyone understands that I still, 40 years into our marriage, don't do kitchens or bathrooms. For that matter, not being a golden retriever, I don't do slippers or newspapers either. I don’t miss either the military or full-time clinical practice. Limiting my public health/travel med/consulting and lecturing to “when I feel like it” has let me happily spend my pension cruising, stash enhancing (oops), arguing with the DH about where we are going to travel next and book buying. Life is good!
This entry was posted in Books & AudioBooks, Prose. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.