At the end of a story remembering a scene from childhood, the author says that her father, now long dead, doesn't care how she remembers him. And I gasped. Doesn't he? Do you really think that?
And then, catching my breath, I agreed. Of course he doesn't. I don't really think that my Dad knows how I'm remembering him - well, maybe I sort of do but the point it, that's not what upsets me about memories of my parents. What upsets me is hearing how others remember them. When their memories don't match mine I'm riled, defensive. Not the details - we remember different details, experienced from different perspectives - but the tone, the "Dad would"s or the "Mom would never"s.
Um. Wrong. Your memory is wrong. Your opinions of these people I loved, love, so dearly is wrong.
And I can't change my mind about this.
I feel bad for my sister who has a completely warped picture of my Dad. She's missing out on the more tolerant, forgiving, accepting father of my reality. But I'm also, let's be clear, pretty pissed at her for her claims that my father, my father, would agree with her intolerant rants. My Dad could disagree with your politics and still respect that you came to your conclusions the same way he did, through thoughtful reflection. My Dad loved my pro-choice, pro-equality, pro-environment self even as he cast a vote for representatives who were anti all of those things.
Maybe Dad doesn't care anymore about how we remember him, but I care how he is remembered.