A question frequently asked by memoir writing students is: Do I tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
There are various theories on this topic, all of which are interesting material for another blog post. Some experts advise caution, while others believe that if you do not remove the mask and reveal every asset as well as flaw, why tell the story?
Where Have I Been All My Life? is a candid memoir by Cheryl Rice that sets sail on a voyage through the churning seas that have perpetuated tremendous emotional distress in the author’s life.
The book begins with her childhood apprehension at being whisked away to summer camp and describes the intense separation anxiety from her mother that accompanied what should have been an adventurous and exhilarating experience.
She also reveals herself clinging to her mother’s pant leg as they entered her kindergarten classroom and her inability to let go, relax and play with the other children. The absence of her mother in the classroom, as well as at summer camp, left her feeling incredibly sorrowful and unsociable.
Fast forward many years to witness a Cheryl Rice whose mother is dying at the young age of sixty-seven. Cheryl walks us through the journey of attempting to cope with her mother’s illness and death and being the daughter who tries to be certain that her grieving father is managing his life without the vibrant woman who was his life and love.
Anyone who has ever lost a parent with whom they shared a loving relationship can relate to the devastation that Rice was enduring. The heart feels as though a vital chunk of it is missing and empty. I have been there, experiencing a sadness that I had never imagined when my own father passed away. Fortunately, I soon discovered that time is truly a healer, and the despair was eventually replaced by the ability to recall bits and pieces of the humorous moments, the very essence of what made Dad a unique character.
The author’s vivid description of losing her mother produced a tight knot that felt like an enormous boulder in my belly. My own mother is eighty-seven and absolutely the most beautiful person--inside and out. The very idea of a daily life without our morning and evening telephone conversations, shopping, Sunday church and brunch, as well as our holidays together, is almost inconceivable to me.
Cheryl Rice helps us realize that while friends and family certainly sympathize with our losses, they cannot possibly know the depth of our individual levels of pain. The anguish may cause us to withdraw or perhaps act and think irrationally. After all, who can ever be the same with that solid chunk of heart excised?
The author shares her reality--the good, the bad and even the outrageous. She gives us hope that grief is a temporary condition and that cell by cell, the heart miraculously mends.
Cheryl Rice is a professional speaker and coach. Her company, Your Voice Your Vision, partners with women striving to be leaders in their own lives. When Cheryl decided to take the advice she so passionately offers her clients, she emerged with a memoir. Her essays have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cactus Heart, and Cure Magazine. Cheryl has M.S. degrees in both Psychological Services and Organization Development and lives with her family outside of Philadelphia. Find Cheryl Rice online at http://www.YourVoiceYourVision.com.
So, consider whether or not you would tell all in your own memoir! Would you be willing to lift the veil on your innermost thoughts and actions? Would you expose yourself to potential self-righteous judgment by others? Hmmm...something to contemplate.
I will be returning soon with more information on writing, books and authors.
Mary Anne Benedetto
Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!