The human brain is an incredible organ. We notice how fantastic it is most easily when we witness it in dysfunction. So many things we take for granted like the ability to use our fingers to type letters onto a computer screen expressing our thoughts. I do it every day without thought. Or at least without conscious thought.
I hear noises behind me, or in another part of the house, and can often imagine what is going on there.
When the human brain is fully functional we can stand up, sit down, turn in a circle, chew and swallow our food . . .speak. All without apparent effort.
We take it for granted.
I’ve been working, slowly, on two new writing projects. They are both in the very early stages of interviews and research. One is about two or three women I know who gave up babies for adoption in the 70s. The other is about my dad.
Several years ago my dad asked me when I was going to write his story. I don’t know where he got the idea that I was going to, perhaps from the family genealogy books I had researched and written a while back. I don’t remember my response. Maybe I said, “Whenever you want me to,” or something equally ambiguous.
A little time passed. I graduated with a degree in English. Took a job as an assistant communications director. Quit the job as an assistant communications director. And began wondering how to fill my hours and days now that our children were grown and in college or beyond.
Dad asked me a second time when I was going to write his story.
I had started trying to make the hour-long trip to Dayton to see my parents at least once a week. They were in their 70s and still taking care of my disabled sister Annie at home. I thought I might be able to assist them in some way if I started visiting them once a week. I decided to bring a notebook and tape recorder when I went. Beginning in August of 2008, Dad and I spent hours at the kitchen table, or outside on his bench, talking about his early childhood, teenage years, and into young adulthood. I recorded every word.
Then Annie got sick and the interviews stopped in June of 2009. I didn’t resume the interviews until almost eight months after Annie’s death in April of 2010. By then Dad’s memory was beginning to fail. Eventually he wasn’t able to make meaningful responses to my questions.
While I was sleeping this morning, or in the early minutes of waking, my brain figured out a solution to how I might tell Dad’s story: His story beginning when he was born and moving forward. My story beginning now and moving backwards. Our stories ending where memories meet.
The human brain is an incredible thing.