The best Christmas gift — a life story

I get a lot of books for Christmas or my birthday, but the writings I’ve most treasured have been the autobiographies that my wife, Cathy, and our kids David and Sarah have written for me at my request.

For instance, when Sarah was 9, she gave me a three-page memoir that began:

“Hi, my name is Sarah Catherine Shiel Reardon. I remember, when I was younger, I grabbed the sharpest knife from the dishwasher and ran to the front of the house, and jumped on the couch. My dad came running after me, and grabbed the knife, and spanked me on my butt. But it didn’t really hurt because I had a diaper on.”

Actually, Sarah didn’t remember that little incident — which scared me half to death — since she was just a toddler when it happened, waddling rapidly but unsteadily from one end of the house to the other with that shiny, terribly sharp knife. But she’d heard me tell the story so often, it was as if she could recall it.

A couple paragraphs later, she wrote, “My mom is real crazy about feelings and emotions. That’s why she’s a social worker, and she really helps me and my brother when we have tough times and are really sad.”

To read the rest go to the story as it appeared in the Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2011:,0,821994.story

Patrick T. Reardon

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