The Autobiography Project

Your Autobiographies

J.T. Donovan's Autobiography (submitted 5/16/06)

"Do you think I can tell the story of my life in 300 words," I ask my wife.
"Of course," she answers. "You've had forty years of a nice ordinary life."
She is right. I shouldn't need more words. I grew up happy in a small town in Central Pennsylvania. I studied hard, went to a good college in Easton and a good law school in Pittsburgh. I got a job in Philadelphia, worked hard, made partner, fell in love, got married, bought a house, had a little girl, had a little boy. By any measure, I have lived the most pleasant and ordinary of lives.
But is 300 words enough to tell about the drive up College Hill all those seasons with my parents? Can 300 words tell enough about quiet hours in bars and on porches and in the churches of the places I loved? Are 300 words enough to capture the acute loss of losing two parents too young? It would take my 300 words to describe the joy of wedding days with my siblings, their spouses, their children. 300 words for the St. Patrick's day I got engaged on top of the Art Museum steps? 300 words to describe waiting for my first baby all Christmas Day? Everyone prepares you for a life of joy and sorrow. No one tells you how the intense the joy is; how genuine the sorrow is.
The number of words can not measure a life. All I want said after my last day is much shorter than 300 words yet so much harder to achieve. "He was a good son, a good brother, a good husband, a good father, a good friend. In short, he was an extraordinary man."

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