I have just begun my 80th year.
It is time to think back, but forward as well. I recently received my brother Wilfred’s resume’. We kidded about whether it was intended to be a help to his children in writing his obituary. He is, after all, older than I by a couple of years, and our middle brother will never be able to write his own resume’.
In addition we discussed the difference between a resume’ and a curriculum vitae. I’m not of a mind to make the distinction, and as a matter of fact I kiddingly said that if I were to compose anything like either it would be an apologia vitae. That too can have different interpretations: on one hand it might be a life apology; on the other, it is understood in the same way as Catholicism’s “apologetics,” that is, not an apology, but a defense, or explanation.
I will attempt the latter.
When I compare the concepts resume’ and cv, a story comes to mind which might illustrate the differences. The first is a recap of what has come before; the second sounds more like a final accounting. The example is about an elderly man who was asked whether he had lived in New Orleans his whole life; shocked at the impertinence of the question, he answered, “Not yet!”
I have neither a resume’ nor a cv worth telling. Oh, there are stories that I might tell, descriptions of passages in life, some accomplishments, some failings. But I have forked no lighting, as observed by Dylan Thomas about most of us.
If there is any value to this telling, it might be twofold: firstly, those of my descendants, friends, and coworkers, with whom I have maintained a good, mutually enjoyable relationship over the years might like to be reminded of some happenings, of experiences maybe long forgotten, of those shared relationships which made for love and happiness; secondly, there have been during my lifetime certain unpleasant – even tragic – chapters which need the telling even after I have departed. It is the second of these which cries out for airing because they were never as complete as those in the first part.
I could begin with family relationships, as they occupied the most meaningful of all things that came early in life. Not much will be spent here with regard to my father, as I have already told a great deal about him and that is posted on my web site.
As for my mother, perhaps some day, time permitting, I can adequately describe the life of a woman who loved and served my father and contributed in ways never to be understood with regard to whatever success was accomplished by her children. She was a simple woman who educated herself far beyond the 6th grade level, the level she attained in formal education. After that, she must have worked in the strawberry fields until she was old enough to get a job.
I hope before I run out of time to cover the two problems of the second part in a way that I may present not my apology but my apologia vitae.
One of these appears in two incomplete but related tellings. The other has not been written.
Both are sad stories.