Publication Date

August 31, 2022

Perspectives Section

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

Your recent essays on retirement prompt me to pass along a project I began more than one year ago (I retired, in 2018, after 50 years at my university): thematic essays as autobiography (as opposed to a life narrative). It might be appealing to others.

Both of my parents died in their 50s while I was in my 20s. I had learned bits and pieces about their lives (e.g., my father was an immigrant who came to the United States, at age 19, in 1930; my mother was a second-generation American), but during the following years, my brothers and I had many questions about their lives we had not thought to ask while they lived. Not wanting my sons and grandchildren to have to deal with a similar void and starting at the time of the COVID-19 lockdown, I began to write these personal and revealing essays about as many aspects of my life and experiences as I could think of. Following Oliver Cromwell’s “warts and all” request to his portrait painter, I am honest, not holding back even on subjects that are embarrassing. On average, the essays run between three and four typed pages each, single space.

The entire experience (to date, as I’m not finished yet) has been fun and therapeutic, and when it’s completed, I will be able to pass along these encounters with my life not only to my sons and grandchildren but to nieces and nephews as well, because this work is also, in part, family history and self–oral history.

Robert Blackey
California State University, San Bernadino (emeritus)

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