After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey

after visiting friends

I seem to be reading a lot of disappointing memoirs recently. This is the story of a man whose dad died when he was eight years old. His dad was thirty-five years old when he died suddenly away from the family home.

Hainey’s dad was a newspaper man and the memoir shows us an interesting view of how life was in 1960s Chicago working on the newspapers. There are several obituaries written about his dad, but they do not all quite add up. Hainey cannot get all the answers about his dad’s death from his mother, because she does not know them, so he goes out to find out what happened.

The story of what happened is probably terribly important to Hainey and perhaps his brother but not to me. I wanted to keep reading to find out how he had in fact died, but when I found out I was not particularly shocked. His dad died of a brain haemorrhage (not a spoiler, the mystery is more where and with whom). What I do find quite interesting to think about, is that if he had not gone out that night, or if he had got home to his family a little earlier, then there would have been no suspicions. He still would have been dead, though, and he is still dead now that Hainey has found out the truth.

There is a nice part at the end when Hainey reflects on his appreciation that his mother raised him and his brother alone. He says that he went searching for his father and he found his mother. That is a nice sentiment and the most important part of the story. Perhaps we should all focus on the good people that we do have in our lives, rather than worry about those who are no longer with us, whether it be because they are dead or just gone.

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