This weekend I was supposed to go blueberry picking with my mom, but she wasn't feeling well, so she sent my dad with me. We had a great time picking and chatting. I updated him on my querying, and he updated me on the progress of the '57 Chevy he is restoring and the stories he is working on.
When I started talking to my folks about my writing, my dad told me he had a story idea he was working on. I encouraged him to pursue it (as I would any writer) and he let me look at the first rough draft. And it was rough, just like any writer's first draft. There were no quotations for dialogue, no tags, no new paragraphs. I was stunned-- my dad is very good at grammar and usage, so this surprised me. He also fell into the early writer's telling me what happened instead of showing me. I gave him some ideas of things to try, and he worked on it for a bit, but has let it go recently as he works on his car.
In the meantime, he started jotting down memories of things from his childhood. He let me read through it one day, and I was amazed. My dad has various stories he tells from growing up (the one that always comes to mind is Rabbit Berries, but that's a post for another day.), but here were things I had never known about, or heard about. Like the ration coupons, and how farmers were given more of them for gas and would trade those coupons with others for things they needed.
I also learned about some of his antics during school. See, my dad grew up during the Second World War with a German surname. In school we learned about the internment camps for the Japanese, but I never heard about the treatment of Americans whose families were from Germany, until I read this. My dad went through horrible bullying, and all because of his name. He made it through, but it made an impression on him.
As we picked berries, I asked about his memoirs, and he said he hadn't really done anything with them, and asked me why I was asking about it. I told him I really enjoyed reading them as it brought the past to life for me, giving me a connection I hadn't had before. I also thought it was cool the things I learned about my dad that he's never really talked about much.
I hope that he really does keep jotting down things as he remembers them, giving at least the rest of my family a glimpse into the past.
What have you learned from your parents history?