Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—Mafia Style


 I learned from my Mafia father that good and evil are complicated matters. 

Admittedly, this is not a lesson he taught overtly, but one I came to over time—trying to digest and accept the ambiguity of loving someone who does wrong in legal terms but demonstrates considerable goodness otherwise.

Clearly, my father broke the law—was indicted by several grand juries and ultimately convicted of conspiracy before he died.  This is indisputable.

But simultaneously and confusingly for a child, he was kind, generous, witty—the sort of guy one wants for a friend—great fun at parties—charming.

You get the picture.

I knew nobody who disliked my daddy, no one who spoke ill of him.   Likewise, I never knew him to bad-mouth anyone, to get angry, curse, or even complain. 

I think what’s easy to forget is that those who commit crimes, do so in a context, often in the context of otherwise good lives.  Those who commit crimes do so also in the context of family.  They have wives and children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers.  Sometimes otherwise kind people commit crimes, cross the line.  Good people do wrong, make mistakes.

Clearly, my father’s “crime” became a way of life—so much so that as a child I knew no other context—no other reality.

Sometimes I fantasized that things were otherwise, once I was old enough to understand that mine was not a normal family.  I remember being in the sixth grade and a friend asking what my dad did for a living.  I dreaded that question.  But there, at that table for two—a Monday* morning in Mr. Schlosser’s science class, I know I must have offered some explanation.  But oddly that part of this particular memory is gone.  I have no idea what I said.

Clearly, by the age of eleven, I knew an honest answer was impossible, without simultaneously betraying my father—or, at least, my own efforts to retain some semblance of normalcy, when it was obvious we were nowhere near that.  My parents took us out of school to travel.  We were well dressed—better dressed than most of my public school classmates.  We returned from spring break sun-tanned.  We took cruises.  Daddy picked us up at school in fancy Cadillacs.  He wore cashmere and silk.

Perhaps, this is why I still have issues with honesty—feel the need for such intense transparency.

I’m terrified of being found out, so I over correct in the direction of extreme forthrightness.  I can’t tolerate hiding behind a half truth.

This may be why I’m so honest about my bipolar disorder, feel the need to clear the air and set things straight.

Now, as an adult, I know I’ll never be normal—whatever that is.  I’ve given up on that.  What I haven’t abandoned is the need to be seen for who I really am.

Maybe that’s why I’m writing this memoir—needing to take a blindingly honest look at the past—to clearly account for what happened, to draw conclusions regarding why, how, when.

Like people, the past itself is never all one way or another, never all bad, all good.  Time distorts.  We forget, remember incorrectly.  There is no perfectly honest recollection.  And though I accept this fact in terms of people—that they are never all good or all bad—I still struggle accepting this about myself—that I might not remember fully, honestly, completely—that I, like my father, might be wrong.

 

(* Note:  I’m not certain it was a Monday.)

 

74 thoughts on “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—Mafia Style

  1. Hi , I would like you to know how much I admire your honesty Kathy. In a day and age where people are so obsessed with political correctness that they are afraid to be open about their feelings and opinions, if indeed they dare form an opinion, honesty is a rare trait. If you can not make your own observations about life etc you are in danger of becoming just one of the flock. You are definitely so much more and have obviously had a very colorful life, but I am Curiouse, do people find you a little bit scary?
    I only ask because like yourself I believe in honesty, not the brutal unkind brand of honesty, but being true to myself and my character as well as expecting the same from others. I can easily accept that someone else has a different opinion to mine and willingly try to see another’s view point, I try not to judge before exploring other peoples motivation for their actions or words but still repeatedly get told I am a bit scary?
    Over the years I have done allot of soul searching, I have asked why? how? but have yet to find a soul who can say what it is about me that makes them nervous. I sound like a freak now don’t I, but let me reassure you that I am a perfectly normal woman, as you say, If you can define normal.
    So the question is it confidence and honesty that are scary, am I the Wolf to their sheep, and are you a wolf too?
    I would feel better about myself knowing that I had a kindred spirit out there somewhere.

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    • No one has ever actually told me that I scared them, but I have always feared that I might–if that makes sense. My life has just been so bizarre that sometimes I fear people won’t believe my story or think that I must be some kind of weirdo as a result of the life I’ve lead. But that has never turned out to be the case. And, frankly, I don’t know why. People suggest that I’m “intense”–and I am that. But most folks who know me, until I started writing about it in this blog, had NO idea this was my background. For example, colleagues at the university where I taught writing knew nothing about my bipolar disorder or my father. (They may be saying it now–who knows.)

      I could go on and on, as this touches on one of my deepest fears, but not one that ever seemed to be realized. I’ve never worried that I’ve been a wolf to other’s sheep–in the sense that I would be threatening or scary–only that I would be too, too weird. Does that make sense?

      Thanks for sharing your experience, both because I appreciate your willingness to be so honest, and also because it opens up what I think is an important dialog. Kudos to you!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • I’m a little more alert now than I was when I made my comment below, so I wanted to comment to you. I too try to be honest to my beliefs and voice my opinion without ignoring the ideas and opinions of others. While, for the most part, people are not intimidated by me (partially because I am five feet tall and look about as intimidating as a stuffed toy) sometimes they are because I don’t hide my intelligence. So I would argue that, perhaps, your honesty and confidence come off as intimidating when you meet certain people because, even in this day and age, many are not accustomed to women standing up and speaking out. Trust me when I say you are not alone.

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  2. I’m not feeling very eloquent or clear headed this morning, so I can’t say much. But I do have one question for you, anyway. What is normal? I’m not normal, nobody I know is normal. Your life was normal for you, even if everyone else sees it as unique. That’s what makes your story so powerful.

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    • Exactly–that’s why I said about normal–“whatever that is.” But kids who grow up in bizarre environments desperately want to be “like everyone else.” It would have been impossible to convince me as a tween that “normal” wouldn’t have been preferable to whatever we were. As a kid “normal” was pretty much “what we weren’t.” Kids think in these binary categories–at least most of the kids I knew/know did. So it was when I was a child that I wanted what at that time I considered “normal.” I know better as an adult and now think whatever that is would be pretty damn boring. I agree both you and I are much preferable as we are–which is decidedly not what most people would consider “normal.” For example, that’s part of what I like about you–if you were a cookie-cutter person, I doubt we would be friends. Does that make sense?

      One other thing– I think I need to distinguish between being a smaller child and thinking my life was normal because I had no other expereince of the larger world, and how I felt as I approached adolescence–when I realized otherwise.

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      • Okay, I swear this is the last “one more thing”–

        Actually, I know there is really no such thing as a “cookie-cutter” person either. By that I mean folks who lead more conventional lives, have made more middle of the road life decisions–have not taken “the road less traveled” as often.

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      • Obviously I missed the “whatever that is.” 😛 I told you I was fuzzy. I think it wold be interesting if you did separate a little bit. Maybe tell sections of the story (actual events) from the child’s point of view. You kind of did that with your first post, when you say you don’t remember anything but screaming about your mother. If you include a few more of those sections, it would be fascinating.

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      • Let me make sure I understand what you mean. Do you mean separate pre-teen memories from ones that came later? Cause the memory from the post you refer to was from when I was an adolescent–not a pre-teen. Or are you refering to telling the story from the child’s/adolescent’s point of view as opposed to the adult one?

        I struggle so, as so few memories are distinct enough to tell at all. I remember few actual events. Most of my memories are fuzzy impressions, which are hard to make into interesting narrative. Or at least, I don’t know how to do it.

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      • I think I mean, include a little snippet of an anecdote from the child/or adolescent perspective at the beginning of a chapter or something. Then reflect on it and how it relates as the adult. Almost like taking a piece of a diary from your past and analyzing it in your present. Sorry if I’m not making sense. I’m kind of struggling with my brain this week.

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      • Oh, Lisa my dear, I think you so underestimate yourself! Look at the brilliant post you did about comment etiquette. I so wish you could see yourself as so many of the rest of us see you. Your mind is amazing, my friend. I think it’s more likely mine that is dense! Ha, ha!

        But, your idea is a great one. It would definitely be something to try. The fact of the matter is I’m so lost and overwhelmed by this entire project. I feel like I’m grasping at anything I can hold on to. You have no idea how much I appreciate your suggestions!

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  3. When I was very young I had a boyfriend who was on the wrong side of the law, so I have some experience of living a strange life outside of normal. I adored him and would have done almost anything for him, but he ended up in prison and that was the end of that. He was charming and delightful and everyone loved him. If he had put his abilities to another purpose he could have done anything.

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    • This is fascinating, Deb. I wonder what it is. Therapists have told me that sociopaths can be enormously charming, but I have NO sense that my father was that. If he were, I was REALLY, REALLY deluded. I wonder if this is a common description–their charm, I mean. The charm of folks who may not be sociopaths but who end up on the wrong side of the law. I just haven’t had a chance to talk to many folks who have known criminals. Thanks for sharing that!

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  4. there must have been so much denial going on in your family. Your dad sounds like such a great guy, but he did put your family in danger. I can imagine that got glossed over, along with who-knows what else. No wonder honesty and transparency are vital to you.
    I love your journey and will follow you anywhere.

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    • Oh, Sandy, thank you. You are right. He did put us in a terribly difficult position. And he had to be involved in more that I know about or anyone had talked about. I just don’t know how to find out if that was the case. Maybe what matters is that my experience of the person I knew was pretty positive.

      I need to get ahold of my dad’s FBI file, but to do that I need to file for a freedom of information act and have my dad’s death certificate. And I’d have to get that from my mom–which wouldn’t be easy. At least I don’t think it would. I don’t know why I’m so afraid to ask my mom for it. Maybe it’s the denial you refer to. Yes, the denial is big–no doubt!

      I love you for wanting to follow this story, Sandy. Thank you, my friend!

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  5. OK Kathy, I have been shamefully neglecting your blog (along with many others) and as a result cheating myself yet again. I caught a couple of your recent titles, without really reading the post, and they are partly what inspired the Blogkuza name that I coined for a recent post. Based on what I am reading here, the post (and the name) take on a new significance for me. What defines good an evil? Is someone truly evil for breaking laws that they do not agree with? Especially if in the breaking the are protecting what is most important to them? My understanding of any Organized “Criminal” unit ia they are like family. They take care of their own, and really have a strong morality that is not easily broken. The issue is that their morality, and their notions of right and wrong are at odds with those defined by the rulers of their society. Again I ask, if a law is unjust or even plain wrong according to your morality, are you evil in breaking it? Or is the fact that it is a law more important? And does protecting your own affect the morality of this situation? I can not answer theses questions for another. I can just ask them. 🙂

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    • You are asking exactly the right questions, Steve!

      I’ve been guilty of the same–falling behind on your posts, so unfortunately, I missed the post you mention. I will hop over and read it as soon as I finish here.

      Yes, criminal organizations are a lot like families–and the part of the Mafia I’m familiar with had STRONG family values. I have no idea how to answer any of the questions you pose about groups at odds with the values of the society they live in. But, these are indeed the very questions I struggle with in relation to my father. I can not thank you enough for articulating them so clearly and concisely. I am really, really grateful, Steve!

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      • Thanks so much for leaving the link, Steve. If anybody wants to read a very fine (dare I say brilliant) discussion of this good-evil binary, please click over to Steve’s blog and read the post he links to above. And let me know what you think. Or better yet, let Steve know what you think.

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  6. I find the good and evil binary fascinating and love how you deal with it here without trying to give some grand, but blog-sized, answer. Also, I think your memoir will be more interesting because of your father’s personality. I feel like a lot of mafia portrayals are of either wimpy yes-men desparate for approval or freakishly composed megalomaniacs that could turn on you on a whim. You’ll be broadening/questioning “mafia normal” as well as “family normal” and “personal normal”.

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    • I agree that my father’s personality will make my blog more interesting, and I think my story will definitely broaden our sense of “mafia normal.” In fact, I love that term. Clearly, we do ourselves a disservice when with think of good and evil in purely binary terms. Both are so nuanced. And maybe that’s what my memoir will attempt, in part, to do–to challenge our sense of Mafia normal–Mafia evil. It’s not easy.

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  7. I wonder sometimes about what is most criminal …stories like that of your father or the people elected in Washington to serve the public interest who only serve themselves….another fine post.

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    • Oh, Charlie, I have a post in mind that will address this issue head on. I’m so gald that you mentioned it. I won’t give it away here, but it’s coming. I considered including a discussion of this issue here, but it seemed that might push this post a bit further than I wanted to take it. I wanted to keep this one personal. Thanks for this fine comment!

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  8. My dad was telling me last night about a Ken Burns documentary he’s watching on Prohibition. The funny thing is, it talks about how one of the biggest sources of income from selling illegal booze came from the U.S. Capitol Building. The very lawmakers who voted for Prohibition were secretly buying alcohol.

    If that doesn’t sum up the blurry line between good and evil, I don’t know what does.

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    • Okay, Mark, I’m SOOOOOO glad you brought this up. As I said to Charlie above, I have a post in mind that will addrress the corresponding politcal crimes being committed by the very administration that indicted my dad and his partners. It’s fascinating. I’m NO expert on the topic. In fact, I know VERY little about it, but I plan on addressing it, for sure. I guess that will have to be my next post, since two of you brought it up. Thanks, my friend, for sharing this story. I actually had no idea that so much illegal alcohol was being sold on Capital Hill. Boy is that fascinating!

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  9. Very well-written, thought-provoking post. I also have a strong instinct to be brutally honest about everything. Usually a very good quality although it can make life difficult sometimes.

    But I think you can go ahead and write that it was a Monday morning, even though you don’t remember the exact day, and let us believe it 🙂

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    • Thanks for mentioning the Monday morning thing. I don’t know how I will ever go about telling this story unless I make up/attempt to recreate as best I can some of these details.

      And, yes, brutal honesty can get one into trouble at times!

      I’m glad you appreciated this piece from a compositional perspective, as well. That’s good to hear. Thanks for sharing that, Heather!

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  10. I am also such a stickler for honesty – I drummed it into my poor childrens heads from a young age – now i have a daughter that is just as bad as I am about being truthful – by that I mean totally and completely truthful and a son who loves to tell me what I want to hear regardless of the truth.
    I wonder what it is that makes us so?

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    • Gosh, Jackie, I wish I knew what caused it. For me I suspect it has to do with growing up feeling like I was living a lie and needing desperately to corrent that. My partner Sara makes fun of me–she says I try to clarify to a fault–that I try to clarify things that are understood. I’ve never know anyone else similarly afflicted, so bless you, my friend. Sorry you, too, have this sickness.

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      • Quick comment to reply here before I leave another comment below.

        I might have to agree with Sara’s verdict when it comes to the “Monday*” part of this post– I don’t think it’s necessary to clarify that you weren’t sure what day of the week it was. Unless the day of the week plays a critical role in the rest of your unfolding memoir, it shouldn’t matter if this particular instance *actually* happened on a Monday. 🙂 Kudos to you for your honesty, though!

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  11. Hi Kathy,
    Great post! Very thought provoking. Recently, I read a book where the author states that all our uncomfortable feelings come from infancy and childhood and they replay throughout the rest of our life in the various situations that develop especially when we haven’t “integrated” (author’s word) them. It’s a very interesting book that I’m using to help myself heal from past emotional stuff.

    Your father sounds like a good man who was just trying to support his family the best way he knew how at the time. I would imagine that once involved it is something you can’t easily get out of or so I’ve heard. Do you think your father harbored any fears?

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    • That’s a really good question– did my dad have any fears about leaving. I often wondered that myself, but, actually, have no idea. I do think he got in deeply enough that he didn’t know how to get out–whether that was fear or simply a practical matter, I really don’t know. I certainly believed my dad was well-intended. Whether that excuses him or not–who’s to say?

      I’ve been told the same thing by therapists–especially that childhood trauma has a huge impact into adulthood. Sounds like a great book you’re reading.

      Thanks for raising these important questions, Marianne. Great to hear from you————-

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  12. You’re right. Looking in from the outside, we, the public tend to look at those labeled as criminals as only that. Criminals. It is a good reminder that not everything is black and white. These are real people with real families.

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    • I guess that’s part of the problem with labels–they put people into categories that don’t fully define them. At the same time, I suspect this kind of pigeon-holing is human nature. So maybe my memoir can be a reminder that these categories are often limiting and sometimes even inaccurate.

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  13. Hi Again, I think what all this shows is that Good people do Bad things and bad people do good things. Nobody should be totally defined by their one action, although of course some times the one action is so completely unforgivable and evil that it out weighs any kindness and generosity of spirit. Maybe I have just blown my own theory here? But what i do know from personal experience is that Parents often live by two sets of standards, one set for the general population and another for our family’s whom we have an overwhelming need to protect. This means we will often forgive or gloss over behaviors which we would not accept from any one else. That does not mean we approve, just that to enable us to continue to love we must find a way not to notice?
    Maybe our children do the same?
    If a child is aware that their parent is really evil ( not suggesting your dad was) would that internal struggle not affect their entire life?

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    • Carole, you are asking such important questions. I don’t know the answers either. Maybe as we mull these things over, we begin to get a clearer sense of what the answers might be. If we don’t search, it’s unlikely we will ever find the answers–that’s why I love that you call your blog “Answer Seeker.” Thanks for contuing to talk about thesse issues here. Your questions are so important!

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    • I suppose I would be too, were thera a “good” side to show. Just kidding—————

      I’m transparent–you’re refreshed–I suppose it’s a win-win? Cool————–

      Have a great weekend, my friend!

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  14. Hi Kathy, been back over your Mafia posts very good reading the beginning of a book i believe a, a great read. You portray strongly how this all felt back then but i am keen to know how you feel about your Dad and his “work” now? You clearly have some very supportive friends and while none of us should be unduly swayed by the opinions of others not one of them seems to have an objective opinion about what was clearly an illegal operation. Coming from the UK I have no first hand knowledge of the modern day Mafia unless you count the Sopranos which oddly seems to run along similar lines to the family life you are describing. At the risk of offending which I promise you is not my intention, don’t the mafia hurt people? People who where maybe lawfully trying to make a life for their Family’s? Can making a living off the weakness of others ever be right, does being a nice bloke to his friends make a man a good bloke?

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    • I honestly wish I knew the answers to your questions. You are right. The mafia is nortorious for hurting people who oppose them–at least that’s the stereotype. My experience of it was so different that I have trouble reconciling the two. It may be very possible I’m idealizing my father. I don’t know. I suspect the only way I’ll come closer to knowing anything certain in my gaining access to my dad’s FBI file, but I think that’s a complicated process. What I’m able to track down in newspapers indicates he’s accused of book-making, money laundering, and conpiracy. And I’m sure he did those things. I know he did those things.

      So, I don’t know the answers. But your questions are totally legitimate–what I think most people would ask.

      Does that help clarify at all?

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  15. Life is a funny thing. Not that my family resembles yours; however, I grew up in an alcoholic home. Both of my parents drank. My Dad was the good guy and mother was the abuser. Yet, mother berated Dad terribly and in front of us children. There were secrets in our family. Rarely did I have friends over. Yet, for as “bad” as Dad was supposed to be, he was a good man. I never heard him speak unkindly of anyone or anyone speak unkindly of him. He was my best friend and the one parent I wanted to spend time with. He had bipolar and so did I. Kind of interesting the parallels.

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    • Really interesting parallels, actually. Sorry that both of your parents had issues with alcohol and that your mother was abusive. Mine was abusive also. It’s tough to grow up in a dysfunctional, isn’t it? I can empathize with your situation. Where were you in the birth order among your siblings?

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      • I am the first born. I have a feeling my mother was also jealous of the relationship with my Dad. I don’t know why I feel this. Being the first born and the abuse I received makes me think she wasn’t ready for children either. Though my parents tried five times between me and my sister hence the seven year age difference. All were still born except one. The sister born about a year after me lived for a few days and then she died.

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      • I’m also the oldest–but the oldest of 4. I’m always interested if there’s a difference in how abuse affects kids, depending on their birth order. I don’t really see any particular pattern in our family, so there may be none. I suppose your mom may have been jealous of your relationship with your dad. That makes sense. Thanks for stopping back by.

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    • You are so welcome. It doesn’t feel like this required much of me, but I’m glad you appreciate the honesty. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. It was great having you! Hope you’ll come back soon!

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  16. I don’t think things are always clear, with one way pointing “good” and the other pointing “evil”. My husband and I were just talking about this. I think there’s a middle arrow which points toward all sorts of feelings and decisions and opinions, none of which might be clear. I like your honesty in sharing. Thank you.

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    • Thanks so much for reading and thanks even more for taking the time to comment. I think you are very right. There is a middle arrow—a topic I will sort of touch on in tomorrow’s post. I appreciate your noticing my efforts at honesty and hope you will stop back by again soon! It was great having you!

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  17. I admire the way you put yourself out there in a blaze of honesty. Fantastic post, my friend. Freshly Pressed worthy. I hope they’re taking notice. 🙂

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  18. Hi Kathy, I finally got around to reading this post, and I’m kinda glad I did so now, after so many comments have been made. It was an interesting, thought-provoking read, and that includes the conversation that ensued.
    I like the way your story proceeds by connecting dots. And I’m impressed by your persistence in jogging those brain cells and filling the gaps with what you imagine must have been. Hats off to your honesty. I think it’s pretty cool that your earlier life has taught you to be so forthright and transparent, and I can totally get why that would make people uneasy, if that’s indeed what it does. No one likes to hear the complete truth always. I think we all prefer to live a little bit in denial, or try to focus on only the good stuff so that the bad stuff will hopefully just fade. By writing this memoir, you’re opening yourself up to being objective, and that, my friend, can only be a good thing. If there’s one thing I believe, it is the existence of many many shades of gray.
    Keep up the good work. Love.

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    • Thanks, Munira. I have to agree that the post becomes more interesting the more dialog that ensues. That’s one of things I love best about blogging.

      I don’t think my forthrightness has ever really bothered anyone but my mother–maybe Sara every once in a while when I want to write about her and she doesn’t want to have the attention.

      And, yes–there are so many shades of gray. That’s something I imagine you would really come to appreciate being from Pakistan–talk about a complicated, gray-infused place.

      Thanks so much for reading, my friend. And lots of love back to you, as well!

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  20. Your honesty and commitment to being forthright are very admirable, Kathy. I think these traits will serve you well in your journey to write your memoirs.

    As far as your research goes, have you read any books on memory, memoirs, or “The Truth” from a constructivist perspective? I wrote my thesis from a starting point that there is no “fixed reality” or “universal, undeniable truth”. I believe we are all situated in time/place/circumstances and that our perception of our experiences taints our understanding (and thus, our explanations) of them.

    Maybe texts in this vein will help you reconcile your inability to remember certain events (or the questions you have about the “accuracy” of what you DO remember) with the work you’ve been doing to harness these events into your memoirs. I don’t believe that what you write has to be the *only*, *irrefutable*, *exact* or *precise* Truth– you only need acknowledge your biases and humanity up front.

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    • I have read the material, but somehow “knowing” these things has not helped my rather neurotic obsession with what i perceive as accurate. It really is a neurosis, I think–my obsession, that is. Thanks for the reminder though. Clearly, I need the reality check.

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  21. Two of my key responses to life are:
    – You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.
    – You worry, you die. You don’t worry, you still die.
    Now I know they sound bleak, but despite my cynical packaging, somehow those two phrases still say to me that life’s too short to be overly hard on yourself. Your search for truth and understanding marks you as a warrior (not to be confused with a war-wager) – this is very clear in your writing. But as you’ve identified, all truth is relative and experiential. The crimes you refer to are not yours. The accountability is not yours. Having said that, the journey into the past is sometimes the only route to a clear vision of the present.And this is some history. It deserves to be recorded.

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    • Thanks so much for this thoughtful response. I understand exactly what you mean by “warrior”–and I love that you reference my effort in those terms. I, too, think this story is begging to be told. Thanks for this perspective!

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  22. Like many others have said, a good man can do bad deeds as easily as a bad man can do good deeds. Whether the man or the deed is more important has yet to be decided. Still, even though nuance is a fact of life, but if God will not give us a clear right-and-wrong, we must build it ourselves.

    Cases like that of your father are the ones that trouble any moral system. There is a reason why our stories always feature good vs. evil. Luke Skywalker vs Emperor Palpatine, Sauron vs Frodo, Simba vs Scar, God vs Satan. Yet, as beautiful as these stories are, we must recognize that morality includes nuanced. Accepting that nuance as opposed to denying it, is, in my opinion, the true good vs evil battle.

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    • Thanks for reading. I suppose if more people accepted that good and evil are more nuanced than they might like, then there might be less conflict, fewer wars, etc. I appreciate your sharing this important perspective. Hope you’ll come back again soon.

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  24. “Evil can only be known and measured against a standard of good. Apart from God and the morality that flows from Him there is no standard – and therefore no evil either,”

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  25. I greatly admire your strength, courage, and honesty in sharing your story. My childhood can’t compare with yours, but, on some level, I feel I can relate. My parents divorced in the early 60s, when people just weren’t doing that, and my father moved from the east coast to the west coast. My mother and brother and I lived with our maternal grandparents. Later, in the early 70s, my “hippie” brother had an “illegitimate” daughter. In both situations, because my mother told me that our personal life was nobody’s business (in other words, “don’t talk about it”), I spent years telling friends and neighbors elaborate stories about where my father was – never admitting that my parents were divorced (sounds so ridiculous compared to how common place divorce is this day and age!) – and who the baby was who visited on the weekends. It’s extremely difficult and so unnatural for a child to have to protect their parents. In my case, my mother perceived her life as “wrong” or “bad” by society’s standards, but I knew she was really a “good” person – talk about mixed messages. Again, I commend you. And I admire your writing.

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    • Oh, that had to have been terribly painful. Gosh. It’s bad enough to live through a divorce, but to then have to lie about it. That’s just wrong.

      You empathy here means a lot to me. Truly. Thank you! Can’t wait to check out your blog, as well. Hugs to the amiable child, I’m sure you were.

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      • Well, painful, but a great way to develop my creativity and learn to laugh despite myself. Next year, I might … just might … sign up for NaNoWriMo. (Except my life is more of a sitcom.) For now, I’m watching and learning from wonderful writers like you, and eagerly following Tori as she writes her book. She wrote a chapter this morning, per a comment to me. WHOOT! WHOOT!

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      • Wow, didn’t know Tori wrote a chapter this morning. I will have to check with her. She is a brilliant writer and often doesn’t even realize it. She can teach all of us a lot. (Hope you are reading this comment, Tori.) I do think there is a link between humor and pain.

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