Buryin' Daddy:
Putting My Lebanese, Catholic, Southern Baptist Childhood to Rest

by Theresa Nicholas

University of Mississippi Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-604-73970-1.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 08/17/2011

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Elders; Nonfiction: Relationships

The title says it. Buryin' Daddy—life after the death of a husband and father in (the dropped g gives us the clue) the American Deep South. The title says it, but it doesn't say it all, not by a long shot.

This elegantly crafted memoir tells a story that many of us have lived through, suffering the early death of one parent and being drawn into the devastating, virtually life-destroying grief of the other. Teresa Nicholas' memoir centers on the unexpected death of her father in Yazoo City, Mississippi and her stroke-crippled mother's shattered devastation, but her story extends far and in many directions from that center.

Memoir writers are always urged to tell the truth—whatever it is. Nicholas does, often almost painfully bringing to life of her family through several generations: Her fiery, feisty grandmother now consigned to assisted living, her siblings, her friends, but most especially her parents. She also captures living in the south in the mid-twentieth century, the kindliness, yes, but also the prejudices and the cruelties.

In her author's acknowledgements, Nicholas comments that the book took seven years to write. I am glad she took her time, because she has made it exactly right. The characters are real, her examination of her own feelings and reactions, her coming to understand her own emotions about her parents all ring true. Her language is precise and a fluid. She is skilled indeed, and the book is a pleasure to read. I do hope that this new fan will not have to wait seven more years, to read the next one.

Read an excerpt from this book.

As a girl, Teresa Nicholas dreamed of writing, but after college she detoured into a twenty-five year publishing career in New York City. She served as vice-president of production for Crown Publishers, a division of Random House. Today she is living that girlhood dream writing for several southern regional magazines and doing travel writing on Mexico and Guatemala. With her husband she has lives in her hometown of Yazoo City, Mississippi and in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Visit her website.

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