Jack and the Tales We Tell

Sun dapples her furrowed brow as she crunches through the apple, tiny mouth chawing and talking “But why are we doing this?” Blue tennis shoes, god they are filthy, scuffing at the hard packed dirt. I’ve told her why in so many ways. Words and hugs and songs and tears and still she always wants to know why. She pushes me and I work to remain grateful for the perpetual why of her age and the perpetual, misplaced, certainty of mine.

“Because, Littlest Heather, because one day we will get it right.” I look at her closely, catching her eye in hopes that this time she will hear me.

The small eyebrows lift, “and once we get it right it is forever right. Right?”


With a thump of her tiny foot and a spray of freshly chewed apple she declares, “Forever is a mighty long time.”

“Do you think I am wrong?” Irritation at her pushing and some niggling fear that she knows something I don’t.

There is a long pause as she swallows. “No? But I feel you might be.”

— excerpt from my in progress and untitled and NOT AT ALL finished memoir.

I’ve been writing history or capturing history or … recounting? I don’t know, it feels like a bit of all three. I fear my memory is fundamentally flawed and that I have not only filled in gaps of my past with events and conclusions and sensations that help things make sense but ALSO (heaven help me) that I have also been telling myself stories about what it all means.

You know how it goes. Someone doesn’t respond to a text for more than thirty minutes and the yarns begin to spin. Maybe they are angry with you for something? Maybe there’s been an accident or some emergency? Maybe? Maybe? We wonder and we explain behaviors we don’t understand. For me, the explanations are never the beautiful ones (like maybe they haven’t responded because they’ve been offered a promotion and are meeting with their boss or maybe they are in the throes of creation and have turned their phone off). The tales are generally negative and often personal to me. More often than not, an ignored message from me is about ME in my story.

So now, here I am, trying to unravel over forty years of history and stories of my father and my childhood and OH MY GOD where does the truth end and my story begin. And then, is my story part of the truth too? Some of these are the stories I told then, to make sense of the world and isn’t that important and valuable.

‘Getting it right’ seems so daunting, if not impossible. In the scene quoted above I go on to explain that if I can write this perhaps it will provide some closure and “maybe once it’s told the part of him that wanders the halls of my heart can finally rest and let me have some peace.”

And I can’t help but wonder if this is just another tale I’m telling.

Y’all, it make take decades for me to finish it but I swear, someday, we will find out.

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