Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Book Review Club, July 3, 2013






AFTER VISITING FRIENDS, is the story of Michael Hainey's attempt to find out exactly how his father died at age 33 in 1970. His uncle awoke the family that morning to say his father had been found dead after visiting friends on a city street in Chicago. No police visit, no hospital call. It was too unofficial of an announcement not to disturb his son when he was old enough to think about it. 

For years the idea of who those friends were haunted Michael Hainey. Michael was only 6 when his Dad died and he had little memory of him. His father, a reporter too, worked at night so his time with his kids was scant. His mother didn't seem to much question the oddity of the story. Who were these friends her husband was visiting? She immediately undertook what was necessary to support her sons and left the events of that night alone.

By the time, Michael's search is underway many of the players are dead and those alive are very secretive or protective about his Dad. Most advise him to forget about it since there is no question of the cause of death, but he can't. Although Michael eventually comes to an understanding of what happened that night, he also is looking for facts about his Dad. It is not until the very end of the book that we learn what perhaps formed the man he was.

This was a very well- written and compelling book. Highly recommended. 

Now here is the question that comes with it. Did you parents keep secrets or was their marriage and their past an open book?

I didn't find out until I was fully grown with children of my own that my parents separated after he  returned from the war for quite a long time. There were other secrets too.


13 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Oh, I think we're all interested in our parents' histories. What a fascinating idea for a memoir!!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, definitely kept secrets. Every once in a while one of my parents (almost always my mother) would drop a bombshell and then act like, "Oh, I never told you that?"

In Jackie's case we knew her parents had moved in together (in her grandparents' house) six weeks after they met, but it was fairly recently we heard the story of how they met. Apparently she was at a dance with a friend of hers after the war when he asked her to dance, claiming he was a professional dancer!

If you knew him this was hilarious.


Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I don't think they felt a need to spill their guts as much as our generation did. They were less open about everything.

Anonymous said...

My mother's history is pretty much an open book; my dad's life prior to meeting my mom is a bit murkier--primarily because he came from a very dysfunctional family and preferred to "forget all of that." I'm not aware of any secrets that have been kept in their marriage--and as they've just celebrated their 57th anniversary, I think most secrets would have risen to the surface by now.

On the other hand, sometimes a secret becomes a secret simply because you assume everybody knows and you have no reason to talk about it. Our girls were recently shocked--shocked!--to learn that my husband and I lived together before we were married. We'd never kept that an intentional secret, it was just something we assumed they knew. Another friend, long married to her second husband, said her 20-year old son was gobsmacked when he discovered his mom had been married once before, briefly, when she was young.

Deb

Al Tucher said...

My father was incapable of hiding anything. When he tried, for instance, to keep a birthday secret from my mother, the results were hilarious.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That sounds more like our generation, Al. I always thought there were a million secrets hovering just above my head.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Deb-we have friends a half a dozen years older than we are who burned all their love letters a few years ago. That part of their life was private and they didn't want their kids to read them. Not that there was anything particularly wrong-just it was theirs. I think my parents felt that way.

Anonymous said...

When we became "adults" we started hearing things - for instance, apparently abortions were quite common in our grandparents' generation. Also, things about certain "perverts" were kept from us as kids. (I'm hoping the girls were warned to stay away from this guy.)

My aunt never forgave her aunt for putting her in the way of a friend who molested her as a teenager.


Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

Abortions--and the shame of being an unwed mother--were the two secrets that women would go to any length to keep. I know my great-grandmother had a "favorite" abortion method--it involved a crochet needle and a lot of gin, but since she had at least six children, I don't know how successful she was. One of my aunts had two chdren before she was married, but she legally changed her name to the last name of the father of her children so "no one" would know.

Deb

John said...

My father refused to talk about his time in service during World War 2. Utterly refused. I only knew that he was stationed near St. Petersburg, FL and never was in active combat. He did something "office related" was all I ever got from him. Why then was he so adamant about not talking about that he did? It bothered me for decades. Through sheer chance, just two years ago while looking doing internet research related to WW2 in the US, I stumbled across information about a German prisoner of war camp in the St. Petersburg area. I later learned this was exactly where my father was stationed. That's some family secret.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Wow, John. Have never heard about that but my husband filled me in.
My Dad also never talked about the war and also had a Staff job. But he was at Normandy and the Bulge. It was all to much for a farmer's kid from a small town. Too bad. I doubt he had any sense of where he was half the time.

Anonymous said...

John--there was an episode of Antiques Roadshow where a woman (I believe she was the daughter of the officer who ran that POW camp) and she had all this German folk art that the prisoners had made and left behind after the war.

Deb

Anonymous said...

My father in law was with Patton's army and didn't talk about it, other than shooting the big artillery from miles away.

My father said if he couldn't fly the planes he wouldn't get in them so spent three years as a mechanic working on planes. He was stationed in Warrington.

My favorite picture is one of him drunk out of his mind in full Highland regalia in Edinburgh.

Jeff M.