Patterson (I Can See Back, 2017) gives a grandfatherly account of his life, from childhood to retirement and beyond.
With accompanying black-and-white photos—the old-fashioned kind, in which the subjects didn’t smile—the author begins his memoir with memories of his parents. But the narrative isn’t limited to his own personal recollections, as the short biographies go all the way back to 1908, when his father was “one of the first children ever born in Oklahoma” after it became a state. After a brief but comprehensive overview of his parents’ young lives, Patterson begins his own life story with the early days of his youth. He strikes a tone that’s very much like that of a grandparent sitting in an armchair by a fireplace, walking a grandkid through his life, stage by stage: through his childhood, teenage years, college years, marriage, and time in the Navy. He also addresses his work as an engineer for Shell, his retirement, and his remarriage after being widowed. Expectedly, some of the stretches are a bit humdrum, relating more mundane episodes of life. But in between are more interesting, emotionally laden accounts, including stories of his religious devotion and his marriage to his first wife, to whom he was married for 56 years until her death. The prose style is simple and unassuming—simply a recounting of life events, not a dramatic story. Still, most people would wish that their own parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents had taken the time to clearly write down a straight-ahead chronology. The no-frills style does have a charm to it, though, and it gives readers a true peek into the past.
A straightforward account that will likely appeal most to the author’s own family members and friends.