Tuesday, May 14, 2013

the last book I ever read (Remembering Denny by Calvin Trillin, excerpt eight)

from Remembering Denny by Calvin Trillin:

In the fifties, I think, it was common for a young man like Denny or like me—someone whose grandparents had been immigrants and whose family hadn’t been to college—to be sent away to places like Yale by parents who realized that they were putting a distance between themselves and their son forever, whether he eventually returned to live in his hometown or not. I know that my father was aware of that from the start, because after he died, my mother told me so, not without a touch of resentment. Still, it’s hard for me to think of anyone I’ve known who became completely cut off from the people who raised him—what the social scientists would call his family of origin. I can think of some people whose contact was almost entirely irritating or even painful, but there was contact. In fact, when I reached a certain age, around my late thirties or early forties, it even occurred to me that one elemental fact of life separating the people I knew into groups had to do with their relationships with their family of origin: those who, in one way or another, took care of their parents and those whose parents still more or less took care of them. I don’t think it occurred to me at the time that I knew anyone whose contact with the people who had raised him was so slight that he would belong in neither category. Some of the pictures at Denny’s house showed him back home on family visits in the years after he moved to Washington, but his brother, Jerry, summed up what must have been the view from California in one sentence, without sounding at all put out: “He went off to college by himself and no one ever saw him again.”

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