Noble laureate Doris Lessing wrote her last book, Alfred and Emily, reviewed in The New York Times here, at age 88. She’s now 91 years old.
Apparently she’s been working out the meaning of her parents’ tragic lives all her life. Her father lost a leg in the trenches during World War I. Her mother was a nurse. They tried to find wealth and a refuge from the ghosts of war in Persia and Rhodesia. But they instead became frustrated and bitter. Lessing’s last book, a combination novella and memoir, tries to give them an alternative world without war in which they might have been happier.
I wonder if all of us do this to some extent. We seek the missing leg, we want to restore the wounded hearts. We want to find the missing piece and fill in the hole. If we can do it for our parents, maybe we can do it for ourselves.
Even when we are 88 years old.
Perhaps you can tell that I am about to take my draft materials and photos and sit in the park, ruminating about the lives of my parents. To what extent, and in how many ways, are our lives shaped by our parents, do you think?