from “The Sports Writer” by Richard Ford

“I am of a generation that did not know their parents as just plain folks – as Tom and Agnes. Eddie and Wanda. Ted and Dorie – as democratically undifferentiated from their children as ballots in a box. I never once thought to call my parents by their first names, never thought of their lives – remote as they were – as being like mine, their fears the equal of my fears, their smallest desires mirrors of everyone else’s. They were my parents higher in terms absolute and unknowable. I didn’t know how they financed their cars. When they made love or how they liked it. Who they had their insurance with. What their doctor told them privately  (though they must have heard bad news eventually). They simply loved me and I them. The rest they didn’t feel the need to blab about. That there should always be something important I wouldn’t know, but could wonder at, wander near, yet never be certain about was,  as far as I am concerned, their greatest gift and lesson. ‘You don’t need to know that’ was something I was told all the time. I had no idea what they had in mind by not telling me. Probably nothing. Possibly they thought I would come to truths ( and facts) on my own; or maybe – and this is my real guess – they thought I’d never know and be happier for it, and that not knowing would itself be pretty significant and satisfying.”

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