“First of all,” I wrote in a reply to the e-mail, “if people could only write memoirs about those who are still alive, there wouldn’t be many memoirs.”
But the comment led me to review each of my stories to assure myself that they were fair. I had written about my impressions of my mother when I was a child, my memories of times she had supported and helped me, her independent spirit, and events of her life as she had related them. In only one story was I critical of her actions.
Knowing my mother – who was proud of my writing career – I think she would pretty much agree with what I wrote about her. Perhaps her memories would be a little different, but not so much that she would need to defend herself. Even in the story that criticized her, I believe she might say, “Maybe you’re right, Joan. Maybe I should have acted differently.”
In my e-mail to the family member, I pointed out that all but one of my stories were positive, thus implying that they did not require a defense. The family member has not yet responded.