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Your Father has Something to Tell You: What kind of shadow does a family secret cast over the child? Kindle Edition
What kind of shadow does a family secret cast over the child?
Mark Aherne is a middle-aged, married man living in Chicago. He’s estranged from his parents in Boston, his father having bullied and belittled him throughout his childhood.
One Sunday he receives a desperate phone call from his sister who has been caring for their parents alone for many years. She needs help: his parents are sick and have started drinking again. Mark soon finds himself back with his sister dealing with their parents’ loss of independence.
While caring for his parents, he remembers the past when he dealt with his father’s emotional effect on him and the family. His memories include many childhood events that filled him with guilt and a sense of separation.
As he slowly comes to understand his family’s dysfunction, he discovers secrets in his parents’ lives that led to their own unhappiness. With his mother’s dementia and his father’s stubborn isolation, Mark fears his own aging as he learns to lay to rest the experiences of his childhood.
From the Publisher
The photo of the Wisdom Family
There is a framed photographic portrait of the Wisdom family with a date on the back of 1899. They’re Mom’s side of the family. The parents sit at a small table in a studio setting. Their son, Edward, is twenty-six, the oldest of the three children. Elizabeth stands to the right of her parents. Ellen, the younger daughter, is on the left.
Elizabeth had several beaus in her early twenties, but her aloofness and a sense of propriety had not encouraged a passionate proposal. Shortly after the picture was taken she fell in love with Walter Cargill, a recent engineering graduate from the University of Maine.
When Walter visited her family, he met Ellen, younger and prettier, with a captivating figure. Unlike her sister, Ellen was the life of the party and the most sought-after dancing partner. She took a childish delight in flirting with her older sister’s beaus.
The father and the narrator as a boy
I look at this photo today and realize I am almost twice as old as my father.
I look up from the photo at the neighborhood before me. I’ve forgotten what’s become of all the kids on the street.
The shock of time passing claws at my throat, and I close my eyes. The neighborhood as it was years ago appears fully realized in my mind. The houses are smaller, without the rooms and dormers added since then. Two oak trees stand in front of our house. The hedges planted between the Waters and the McGhees are only a foot high. I hear the shouts of kids in someone’s backyard, Ronnie Stevenson practicing the piano, the clicking of a bike at the end of the street.
I lived in this house from nursery school until college and only returned for holidays and the summer before I enlisted in the Air Force. Those years are a lifetime ago, and this house is no longer “home” for me. Do I feel sadness for the passing of time, or is it for the childhood I wish I’d had but didn’t?
The wedding day of the parents
Dad, in the military, proposed over the phone. Mom accepted, having long ago made up her mind while walking home with my father from high school.
Grandma was convinced her daughter was marrying below her station, but Grandpa quietly supported Mom’s decision.
The lovers prevailed, and a date was set. The wedding dress was folded in tissue paper and packed in a trunk with other clothes Mom needed for the Oregon weather. Grandma reserved a compartment for two in the first-class compartment on the Empire Builder, a luxurious streamliner with a retinue of “colored” waiters and attendants.
The train terminated in Seattle, where they stayed overnight. Dad met them the next morning to accompany them on the ferry to the island. Arriving midafternoon, they found Dad’s friend, Captain Richard Crawford, waiting on the dock. He and Dad loaded the trunk and other luggage onto the jeep; the bride and mother-in-law followed in a taxi.
The wedding reception
The base chaplain performed the nuptials the following morning in the chapel. Grandma gave the bride away. After the ceremony, the newlyweds walked with the other officers to their new home for the brunch reception.
The reception and toasts lasted less than an hour. My father had twenty-four hours’ leave and a reservation at The Camlin Hotel in Seattle. With his mother-in-law in tow, Dad took Mom on the ferry to the mainland. The best man and his wife accompanied them. After dinner, with a bottle of Scotch, they retired to my parents’ room for a nightcap. Dad said it was the worst mistake of his life. After two rounds, he signaled his best man to escort his mother-in-law to her room. “She wouldn’t budge and nursed her drink for another hour. Finally, she got the hint.”
The next morning, my parents accompanied Grandma to the train station. They didn’t wait to see her off. They rushed back to the hotel and caught the last ferry that night. A honeymoon is no excuse to be AWOL.
The father's scout troop
I flip through the photos still in the carton. “Here’s one of Dad with his scout troop. It looks like it was taken at the old town hall.”
As a teenager, Dad joined the scouts with his friends, a rite of passage for boys in the twenties. This photo is one of the few Leslie and I have of him as a young man.
“Which one is he?” Leslie asks, examining the line of boys.
“There.” Mom points to the boy at the far left. “The one in white pants with his hands behind his back.”
“He’s quite handsome, clean-cut,” Leslie says. “How old do you think he is?”
I inspect him more closely. “Thirteen, fourteen years old.”
Father and son on a camping trip
“My father used to take me on scout camping trips when I was four or five years old. I enjoyed the attention and thought I was quite the big shot being a scoutmaster’s son."
Father and son on a camping trip
"Eventually, I joined the Scouts when I was in seventh grade. Tried it for a year but it wasn’t for me.”
“Was your father disappointed when you dropped out of the troop?” my wife asks.
“He was probably more disappointed when I was in the troop. I wasn’t the gung-ho type and never earned many badges.
The narrator holding the fish he caught
I’m late, caught in rush-hour traffic. I stop at the market across from Dad’s apartment to buy the Lean Cuisine dinners he eats most evenings. “Cheaper than buying everything separate,” he says. Not that he can’t cook. He prepared all the meals once Mom stopped cooking.
Sometimes, he’ll buy a piece of fresh fish for dinner. I hate visiting the apartment when he’s frying fish. The smell sickens me. I’m reminded of my revulsion at nine while taking a fish off the hook and listening to it flopping to death in the bottom of the boat.
Once, I cut my thumb on a gill. It stung, but I wasn’t upset until I saw how deep the cut was. A few seconds passed before a red thread on my skin welled into drops. I wanted to put the cut in my mouth, but the fish stink was all over my hands.
I never wanted to catch the fish in the first place. I’d have been happier sitting in the boat bored out of my mind. At least then I wouldn’t have smelly fingers and a cut bleeding on my jeans. I hate the smell of fish.
The story moves along at a leisurely pace and eventually reaches a surprising conclusion, and finally a touching end that may leave you teary, but will certainly compel you to think deeply about your own relationship with your parents, about the perils of aging, and about your own mortality. A thought-provoking story that reflects a great deal of insight into family relationships.— Lorraine Cobcroft, Readers' Favorite, 5 star Review
Your Father Has Something to Tell You by Dave Riese is a thought-provoking installment that will evoke deep emotions in you. It has been a while since I read a book that made me cry. This one touched my heart. Dave Riese had a way of pulling closer to the tale with his figurative language and vivid descriptions. Furthermore, he managed to include instances of humor.— JonesLeeh, Online Book Club
Depictions of growing up in the 1960s evoke the color and emotion of the time. Easy-to-relate-to characters elucidate universal conundrums for a compassionate and cathartic read. — Mari Carlson, The US Review of Books
About the Author
After serving in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, Riese worked at several Boston area financial companies in computer programing.
Upon retirement in 2012, he had a long talk with himself: 'If you want to publish a book, you'd better take writing seriously.' He subsequently wrote Echo from Mount Royal, a novel about a young woman's strange courtship in 1951 Montreal. Your Father has Something to Tell You is his second book, published in 2021.
He and his wife live north of Boston.
- ASIN : B08SJ5Z6S7
- Publisher : Flying Heron Publishing (January 12, 2021)
- Publication date : January 12, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 9968 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 392 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1732091722
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,134,824 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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I found the first few chapters dry and full of information I was not sure of what to do with. I am very glad I continued on! Not wanting to give anything away; I felt I knew what the father had never revealed to his son. There were only a few clues along the way. The reveal was handled in an interesting way. Again, not telling anything, but I liked the authors method.
Who should read this book? Those who have, are currently, or will soon be dealing with the aging out and pending death of parents. I have been through the entire process for both of my parents with a 10 year gap between. I feel I have found comfort I didn’t know I was missing and have been moved further down the pathway of grief that I had not known existed. Even though this book is not a memoir the author has given it that feel with certain characteristics of a true to life work of nonfiction. This gets a well done from this reader. I would have no trouble recommending the book to anyone who enjoys a well written good read.
This was not a pleasant book to read. I rated it 4 stars because even though it was painful, I felt like it was mostly well-written and very accurate on a realistic as well as an emotional level. It’s not a feel good book but I think these issues are important for everyone to consider because most of us will deal with the dilemmas presented at some point. I can’t fault the author just because the subject matter is depressing! While I understand and appreciate Mark’s forays into past memories because these thoughts helped me understand his relationships with his parents, they seemed kind of random and often insignificant and I wanted the author to get back to the current story. And lastly, the title of the book is confusing. I got that Mark’s dad had a secret but this was barely touched on and inadequately addressed. It was certainly not a major part of the story so I don’t understand making it the book’s title. Thanks to the author for the Goodreads giveaway.
As even the author mentions, it reads very much like a memoir, and I found myself wondering throughout if this was a novel based on his life, although he denies this. If Dave Riese ever does write a memoir, I feel that it will follow this same format exactly!
This crux of the story is how a married man deals with the aging of his mother and father, as they decline in health. Very true-to-life, as he and his wife and sister contemplate how to navigate the intricacies of children becoming the care-givers to their parents. There are a couple of interesting secrets that emerge, but the author treats these matter-of-factly, as do the characters in the book when the secrets emerge. Actually, one of the secrets gave me pause, and caused me to drop the rating a star, only because the characters treated it more nonchalantly than I thought realistic. I agreed with the way the situation was handled overall, but there was less of a surprise factor than I thought would have naturally occurred.
As mentioned above, I thought the book was pleasant, although if I had been 10 years older than I am now, I would have found it immensely depressing, as I would then be closer to the parents' age. I definitely would not want to read it then, knowing how difficult the choices were that the children made.
Three stars, and thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in change for my honest review.
Without doubt these character will stay with me. I look forward to reading more from this author.