The other day I walked over to the Post Office to mail a copy of my family biography/memoir The Cleveland Rutters to a widowed friend of my deceased parents. I haven’t seen this man for well over forty or even fifty years, since I was a teenager at most. At that time I would only have called him Mr. K__, certainly not by his first name, as I had just now done in the cover note to him. I never would have thought to send him a copy of the book, except that another friend of my parents from that same street told me he’d love to read it.
Walking back from the PO, I had an out-of-body sort of experience, trying to fit my childhood memory of Mr. K__ and a what-if: What if my parents had known in the 1950’s that I would be writing this book and sending it to Mr. K__ in May 2011? Or in March 2011, to Mrs. B__. How would everyone have acted differently?
Then I laughed to myself, because it reminded me of the bumper sticker that cautions you to be nice to your kids because they’re the ones who will pick your nursing home. Over fifty years ago, family “secrets” were guarded ever so carefully. The very thought that a kid might grow up and write about the parents as openly and honestly as occurs these days—well, it would have caused quite a to-do. Just trying to imagine it made me dizzy. Time travel will do that to a person.