Creating Immortality Through Memoir

“Who do you think will play my part?”

My dentist, Dr. McBratney, was helping me envision my happily ever after, just days after my children had been kidnapped and taken out of country after I’d arrived for my scheduled check-up. I had just wept a puddle of tears and mascara onto his white jacket.

He had his own relationship with my girls, proudly letting my oldest know she was “an anthropological mutant” when she was a pre-schooler since she was born with too few tooth buds, and warning my youngest at 18 months that he would refer her out if she didn’t stop tantrumming. He coached the girls to charge the tooth fairy more when he heard how little they got for their pulled baby teeth, resulting in me getting a handwritten bill slipped under my pillow from my little one, billing for arrearages. So by the time the girls were abducted, he’d grown to love them, and vice-versa.

It was 1994, and the future looked bleak. Less than half the kids of internationally abducted children were recovered back then.

But Dr. McBratney was nudging me to believe that things would get better. That maybe this story would resolve and become a movie. And he was teasing, letting me know he needed to be a central cast member.

I made a mental note then to include him in the book I planned to write. And we agreed that actor Donald Sutherland made the most sense.

And twenty-two years later, there he sat at my book launch at the local university, so proud to be on page 30 of Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters. 

 

By then, our families were friends. I’d watched him become a father. We’d swapped triumphs and tribulations as parents. Enjoyed a friendship that grew for three decades. My oldest daughter was his cat-sitter once or twice. We made a commercial at his request for his dental office.

When you publish memoir, you’ve granted your characters a sort of immortality. And if they were good to you, or you remembered them fondly, it’s a beautiful thing.

It was a year ago when a movie company in Canada contacted me through my website to ask about optioning my story for television adaptation. The wrangling back and forth took longer than I’d expected, and I was told not to announce it too publicly until we received certain confirmation by mail.

I was at my monthly Writer’s Guild meeting a few weeks ago when I got the call. Doc had an emergency illness at work and passed away shortly afterward. Life is fragile like that.

I checked the mail on the way home that incredibly sad night. And there it was.  The confirmation that indeed, Cineflix optioned movie rights.

If he were here today, I’d tell him my vote would be Kiefer Sutherland. Not Donald.

And in a way, he is, and always will be.

Thank you always for stopping by.