Sunday, April 16, 2006

Things I Wish I Didn't Know

This post won't make much sense unless you are familiar with the books mentioned. Sorry.

When I was a kid, I read voraciously, just as I do now. My first venture into the world of grown-up nonfiction was "Karen" and "With Love From Karen," both by Marie Killilea, and "The Family Nobody Wanted," by Helen Doss. I was in the fourth grade.

I loved these two families like nobody would ever believe. I read and re-read and re-read these books over and over again, until Mom threw up her hands and forbade me to check them out of the library for at least a month. My delight at finally finding paperback editions of all three books at a neighborhood yard sale was beyond description. Thirty cents, and they were mine. MINE. My three fantastic wonderful books. Oh, I loved every member of these two families. I knew them so well, I could have ordered for them at a restaurant. I was ten years old, and I had discovered biographies. Real ones, not those stupid large-print "All About Clara Barton" things that my teachers were still trying to point me towards. Those were okay in the first grade, but not nowwwwww.

When I was sixteen, and had gotten a job at the Kresge store downtown, which came with a real PAYCHECK, one of my first purchases was these three books, in hardback. I still have them, and I still cherish them, and for many years I was still reading and re-reading them, and finding new treasures in them with each new reading. I loved these people so much.

And then, a few years ago, I got a computer. I learned how to 'google' things. I googled the Killileas, and the Dosses, and my discoveries broke my heart. It was years before I could read the books again. In fact, it was today.

I learned that Gloria's two daughters, the much-loved and long-awaited Mary DeLourdes and Evelyn Ann, were killed in a tragic house fire that also took the life of Little Marie's daughter, Michelle Smiley. I learned that Gloria and Russ are dead, as are Marie and Jimmy. I learned that nobody seems to know the exact whereabouts of Little Marie, or Rory, or Kristen, not that it's anybody's business, but gosh, I loved them all so much, and would really like to know that they, at least, are all right. A few websites gave them a vague location, but I wanted reassurance, darn it! Google did let me know that Karen is fine, living independently and usefully and happily, which was her parents' goal for her all along.

I learned that in spite of the happiness that is fairly beaming from her book and articles, Helen and Carl Doss divorced, and that Carl's whereabouts are not widely known. I loved Helen and Carl, too, through Helen's lovely book, and I loved all of their twelve children.

Mom says that Helen and Carl once appeared on Groucho Marx's "You Bet Your Life," with the children. I'd love to see that show.

It's disheartening. . . . no, heartbreaking, to discover that book people might have lived happily ever after when the last page is turned, but that after the book is closed and put back onto the shelf, real live goes on, and it's not always happy. With fiction, I never had to worry about things like that. With fiction, the end was the end, except in my imagination. With nonfiction, with biographies and autobiographies, life could still play you a dirty trick or two even after the last page was turned.

My beloved two families will always exist happily on the pages of those three books, but finding out what happened AFTER I closed the books has really had an effect on me. And at my age, too.

It almost makes me afraid to google anybody else. Almost.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:42 PM | |


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