My brother Jimmy and I had an e-mail exchange today that has me thinking . . .
Here's the deal. My family of origin has nice people in it. None of them was/is perfect. But they're all decent human beings who like to laugh and who regularly cut other human beings a lot of slack. When I write about my parents and brothers and grandparents, I write about them with amusement and affection and occasional sentiment.
My friend Annette once told me she hated some essays Eudora Welty wrote about her parents because Welty wrote about her childhood with amused affection, which came across as self-satisfaction to Annette, who (it must be said) had a difficult childhood. Of all the ways I want to come across as to my readers, self-satisfied isn't one of them. And yet it would be hard for me to write about abusive, drug-addicted, selfish family members, because they weren't.
I don't know. I'm wondering if people just roll their eyeballs when I write a Mother's/Father's Day column and go "Oh, here goes little Miss Fancypants, writing about her awesome family again."
I hope not. And also, I have no Fancypants. Not clean ones any way.
To be clear, this is not a plea for you to tell me I'm okay, although I know it reads like one. I would like to hear how reading memoir about other people's families feels to you.