Reflections on His Life

Posted by on Jun 4, 2018 in Blog, Featured | 7 comments

Reflections on His Life

I can’t tell you how many of my friends have told me, “ I wish I had done a better job of capturing my parents’ stories before they died. I just wasn’t interested in hearing those stories until it was too late. It’s such a loss.”

One thing that I feel good about doing with my 97-year-old father is encouraging him to write very short reflections of his life and memories. I call them one-pagers—just short, crisp stories. Dad is totally computer illiterate so I told him that I would edit them, type them up, and keep them in a file on my computer. So, he began cranking out his hand- written stories. At first, they were way too long. I’d slash sentences, take out entire paragraphs, and edit them down to one simple page. But in time he learned to write crisply.

He wrote stories about his days in a detention camp in Oregon when he was a Conscientious Objector during World War II, about hanging out with Billie Holiday in her nightclubs in New York City, his grandfather’s camping trips with Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, and about spending every summer as a child with his extended family on Cape Cod. He has now written more than 120 one-pagers.

Several years ago, we put together a booklet with 20 of his best stories along with photographs. We entitled it Reflections on My Life by Vladimir Dupre. I sent out copies to my four brothers, my sister, and their children. So, all of Dad’s grandchildren have copies of his stories to enjoy later in life and they can pass it on to their own kids. I feel good about doing this. I learned a tremendous amount about Dad and we’ve ended up having wonderful discussions. He continues to write one-pagers and probably always will until he dies. Here is one of his pieces on why he writes….

Why I Write Stories

by Vlad Dupre

Over the years, I’ve occasionally written down personal reflections on my life’s journey. This was to give me a mirror to reflect upon. The stories I’ve now compiled have a different purpose—to share with family and friends some of the pieces of my life. They can perhaps start an interaction or a dialogue. I choose to speak and give voice to a story, yet I cannot control the results. There may be a voice in return, silence, or years of silence. Who knows? I used to get upset when I didn’t hear a response to my recollections. I’d feel hurt and angry. But no longer. I learned that I have to be patient. It just comes with time.

So I’m thrilled to have compiled, with John’s encouragement and immense help, a set of stories. More have been written and I will continue to write others because I have discovered the joy in writing them. As I write, I relive my experiences and bring my past into my present. My voice and my passions are out there on paper to share. What a wonderful feeling!

7 Comments

  1. Wonderful, touches the glory, the mystery of aging.

    I have a 90 year old friend, I asked him over lunch one day what he found to be the most interesting thing about being 90, he said “I am still learning about myself”.

  2. It’s a special gift to have encouraged your Dad to write down his memories and reflections, which can be passed down through the generations. A big missing in doing research on my ancestry are the personal stories and anecdotes from generations past that I had never had contact with. Fortunately, in a few cases, there are a couple distant ancestors who left journals and letters, as well as some first-hand family stories provided by older generations that did know their ancestors. But for the most part, it is a matter of collecting bits and pieces of stories from newspapers or relatives still living.

  3. I am so glad you continue to send me your writings, John, although Jerry isn’t here any longer to share them with me. We did read many of Vlad’s one-pagers together, and were delighted to learn more about Vlad’s earlier life. Knowing Vlad and his family has been a real privilege for Jerry and me. Thank you.

  4. You gave Dad such a huge gift in this encouragement and nurturing and these one pagers are treasure for all of us in the family. These stories will be read, unpacked, embellished upon for years and generations to come. Thank you John.

  5. John I think your encouragement was a wonderful gift to your Dad and also to those who know him as well as those to come who will only know him through his words. Who knows … Maybe you will inspire me to do it because I always enjoy reading yours.

  6. I look forward to reading Vlad’s collection. He is an inspiration to all of us and I feel privileged to know him and his terrific family.

  7. I look forward to reading!

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