I've been retyping the memoir, which also includes some revision and organizing, and I wonder how much of my story is shaped by who I am. Usually, we think of it the other way around: how did my family shape me?
How have I shaped my family is a more interesting question now that I am old and writing about my parents. I have worked on a short portrait of my father, who I still want to turn into a comic character (as I did in my first novel). I had to stop when I realized that he wouldn't find my portrayal of him very rounded. For example, I barely acknowledge his devotion to the Mormon Church: he was a bishop, a stake president, a patriarch and a sealer in the temple. He and Mother went on two missions. He would surely want me to emphasize these. The church was his life.
Therefore: we went to multiple church meetings every week (3 years 100% attendance). We never drank Coke. Didn't buy ice cream cones or anything else on Sunday. Kept on our Sunday clothes throughout the day, and were taught that contraception was a sin.
He didn't care about higher education or the arts. He didn't believe in my gods.
You can imagine how attracted I was to Tom when one night at Mutual (a youth auxiliary), Sister Stevens decided to have a debate about whether or not there was a god. Tom was to debate that there was no god. I don't remember who debated for god.
Tom trounced the believe-in-god person.
I wanted to whistle and shout and stomp my feet. But I just sat there with an internal smirk and thought to myself, I might want to marry him.
At 72, I'm still a teenager and continue to have the fight with my father, who long ago softened on all of these matters and is no doubt saying, "Just let me be dead."
It's my memoir. I will be kind. I'll find my way through it.