Don Edwards Literary Memorial

May 14, 2006



Happy Mother’s Day to you, too!

It’s confusing. I look forward to this evening, tomorrow, and maybe even the day beyond that, but not much more. Why would I? Would you?

Living in the past happens to most of us – the elderly, getting older – but whether or not, it has certainly happened in my case. Most every day now, I live much of it in the past. This state of being began with the advent of the Farmworker Movement Documentation Project, which I began in May 2002. At first I did not notice the change in my orientation, but the more I delved into the very early years of Cesar Chavez and his farmworker movement, the more I began to reside there. And as former farmworker movement colleagues came forward at my urging with their own reminisces about that era, I remembered even more. Details, pieces of conversation, sequential events, the tone of voices, the names and faces of people not seen for more than 40 years; I even began to recreate some of the meetings in which I had taken part. This state of mind began to consume more and more of my consciousness, especially throughout 2004 when I organized and served as moderator for an eight month online discussion with more than 220 former colleagues.

This backward living continues unabated, so much so, I have developed a rationale to justify it. At my age, how many years do I have left? Pick a number, any number, but the cold reality is this: not many. Think about it: if my seventy-plus years now seems like a flash – my God, how did they go by so fast? – how quickly will the number you chose for me pass? In the blink of an eye. I have stacked up more years behind me, than I will ever have access to in the future. It is literally downhill, getting steeper all the time. Besides, I tell myself, I enjoyed those years – not just my farmworker years, but other career years as well, so why not plumb them for additional enjoyment? What’s the harm in it? YES, this sounds a little crazy, even to me, but what to do about it? Perhaps you can help.

“Don’t live in the past”! How many times have we heard this admonition? Why not, I ask, what’s the harm? And if in the course of this backward-living, I am able to produce one of the most unique and important documentation projects in American history – or even if it merits only an honorable mention – how bad can it be, especially if I am not making a talking pest of myself or badgering others with my ancient history. Do you think it would be more personally satisfying to me, or would I be more productive, if I focused all my effort and attention on the uncertain future? I think not.

The best,


Filed under: LEROY POSTS — LeRoy @ 6:29 pm

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