Fun Home and the Vault of Memory

funhome graphic novel
“A Family Tragicomic”

A couple years ago, I heard an NPR interview with Alison Bechdel. In it she described her graphic novel ‘Fun Home’, about her growing up in a small Pennsylvania town, daughter of a high school English teacher and funeral home director.

Around that time, I was hospitalized for uncontrolled bleeding. I lost a lot of blood – perhaps more than the hospital realized, because recovery was slow. I am mentioning this for a reason, bear with me.

The tragi-comic graphic novel has been turned into a Broadway musical. Last night I finished listening to all the songs from that musical. It was touching and funny and quite ribald in places. “Hey!”, I thought, “I’ll order that graphic novel on Amazon!”

A moment later Amazon told me that I had, in fact, already purchased the graphic novel. Right around the time I was hospitalized. I had no memory of purchasing it, but… there it is, on the shelf. It’s been sitting there for two years, waiting to be discovered.

Amazon remembered. I did not.

If we are the sum of our experiences and memories, my existence is full of holes. Death is when the only memories are held by others, by those left behind. The loss of a memory… is a harbinger. A postcard from the future “when now gives way to then.”

Guess I’ll read that graphic novel now…


  • UPDATE: I did read the graphic novel after writing this post, and it is a touching and thought-provoking autobiographical story about the author’s relationship with her father, who died in an ambiguous way that may have been suicide.
  • Yes, that Alison Bechdel, of the Bechdel-Wallace test for movie sexism, and the popular comic strip ‘Dykes To Watch Out For’.
  • It may seem morbid to think of death, and impolite to speak of it. I’ve had two, and possibly three pretty clear chances since the turn of the century to shuffle off this mortal coil. And yet, here I am. It would be strange if I didn’t reflect on it.
  • Another update: Since writing this post in 2017, I had yet another pretty clear opportunity to cash in my chips. Without medical intervention I simply wouldn’t be here. And I realize there are people like me, but without health insurance, and they don’t usually get to my age. When I call for universal health care, it is not just so a working person isn’t put out on the street because of a broken leg. It’s also because I don’t want people to die because they can’t pay a bill.

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Older technology guy with photography and history background