Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Anniversary Celebration by Ronald Wendling

A party to celebrate the first anniversary of the publication of my memoir, Unsuitable Treasure: An Ex-JesuitMakes Peace with the Past, was held on April 3rd at the condominium in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, where my wife Mary and I reside. A good part of the crowd was made up of friends and neighbors at the condo many of whom had already read the book and spoken to me about how it resonated with them, especially the first few chapters about the sufferings of families.

There were also family and longtime friends in attendance, among them Father Anthony Berret, author of Music in the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who with the generosity so typical of his Jesuit colleagues supported me in the writing of my memoir from its beginnings. (See the photo below in which Father Berret is standing next to my wife, Mary.)
 
Members of our immediate family were also there, as you may see in the following photo. From left to right: Daughter Jen, Ron, daughter Margie, wife Mary, brother-in-law Ed, sister-in-law Margaret, Ed and Margaret's daughter Maura, Maura's daughter, Maggie.

I read three short passages from my memoir, all three about my father. Dad was a prankster, especially before recovering from his long addiction to alcohol, and the first passage I read related to a particularly cruel trick he played on me and my mother when I was about six. The second had to do with the last day I saw him alive, and the third with a treasury bond he had set aside for my mother that ended up, thirty-seven years later, paying almost to the penny for her last month in a nursing home. After the reading, I signed copies of the book.

I am still good friends with the man who served as best man at my wedding. He could not attend the book celebration for health reasons but sent a floral centerpiece instead, and the day after the party my wife and I took the flowers to that nursing home in memory of my mother.

Unsuitable Treasure tells how my choices were influenced by my father’s addiction. I attended a Jesuit high school in Buffalo, New York, at the same time my father was recovering from alcoholism. But my mother, unable to forgive her husband for his past mistreatment of her, fostered in me a need to make up to her for my father’s sins and so delayed the separation from her necessary to my growing up. I entered the Jesuit order at seventeen, my father died of cancer shortly afterward, and nine lonely years later I left the Jesuits having discovered under their tutelage that I was not one of them. My marriage, my children, my career teaching literature, and the writing of this memoir all taught me mercy, especially to my body, and helped me bridge the gap between my appreciation of the Jesuits and the necessity I felt to leave them behind.

1 comment:

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

What a lovely post. I need to read your book.