Three women, each haunted by a parent’s hidden past, use the power of memory and the wonder of imagination to heal from their losses.
The earth shatters for Victoria when she is 4 years old and her father comes home on Mother’s Day and reveals that he is gay and HIV positive. He kills himself 4 days before her 11th birthday. At 23, her confusion about who he was compels her to revisit the past for answers. She goes on a journey to reexamine her memories: “I had been carrying my father around throughout my childhood and my adolescence and my early adulthood. And I couldn't bear that weight for the rest of my life.”
Karen believes her alcoholic father, a World War II veteran with PTSD, never loved her. When he dies and she has to write for his memorial; “Every thought I had, every memory I had of my Dad was painful and disappointment.” She decides to investigate his past. In researching the pieces of his early life, she connects his experience on the battlefield "at age 17 fighting for his life," with her own on a football field in Michigan at age 17, "fighting for his love."
In 5th grade, Rebekah stumbles upon the fact that her mother is Holocaust survivor. She realizes “I had opened the door to this room that I wasn't supposed to enter.” Ten years later her mother is dying of cancer. In her final days she reveals heartbreaking stories about her childhood hiding in the jewish ghettos from nazi officers. Rebekah struggles to reconcile the strong maternal figure she grew up with, with her mother’s horrifying childhood. “There’s a sense of unreality that this person who had a certain kind of a life in New York City married to my father, with her three kids and her coffee cup in the morning could also have lived through such traumatic circumstances. Most of the people that she loved died in terrifying circumstances. I just couldn't wrap my mind around it.”
Memory is the story we tell of how we become who we are. Scientific research shows that we can use the dynamic nature of memory to unshackle ourselves from our pasts. When we reshape our memories, we can change who we are and open ourselves up to wider possibilities of who we might become.
Can Victoria, Karen and Rebekah build fuller pictures of who their parents were, reshape their memories of them and summon the hope and courage to envision their own futures?