Memoir Foreword

“Now also when I am old and grey-headed, O God, forsake me not; UNTIL I have shown thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to everyone that is to come.”

— Psalm 92:13 

The author in 2021

Statement of purpose

Why this memoir? Who benefits from it?

And in the first place, how real, or even in the author’s possession is the set of recalled experience he compiles here presents as “the life story” of someone named “Andrew Gibson Bendelow”?

No one can be sure, but this is what “I” think happened to “me.”

Writing this narrative mainly assists “me,” a human relatively close to his death, to retrospectively make sense of his lived experience. But if it benefits another humans, particularly any of my friends or descendents, then it will have been more than worth the effort. I especially hope that one day my step-daughter, my children, and their spouses and kids may find that this merits some attention.

In the account that follows, I intend to be as honest and prudent as possible, for as Jesus says, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32), and as St. Paul writes, we ought to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:13). I quote the Bible because it had a deep influence on my early years, but quite apart from scripture, a theme of this story will be that being honest with oneself and others pays off in self-acceptance and stronger relationships.  

Scientists tell us that in each telling of a remembered event, the facts of the actual occurrence get altered to some extent. A story thus moves further from the facts with each telling. So consider this my attempt to capture something closer to the truth of what happened than if you asked me five years from now.  

To avoid relying on my recollection alone, I will try as far as possible to claim only knowable facts, and steer clear of prior assumptions or received opinions. I will anchor my retrospective in primary source documents, such as letters and journal entries in my posession. I will also corroborate my interpretation and understanding of events with others’ and contemporaneous records where available. 

And that’s one of the reasons I start this project now, in my 60th year: I have time and a relatively sound mind to apply to the task. Before infirmity or cognitive loss remove ability and erase memory, I attempt to lay down for posterity just who this “I” was.

In my 60 years, I’ve gotten lots of satisfaction and meaning from living, and setting down these memories of achievements and failures gives me a privileged chance: to reflect on a life before its end.

It reminds me, and comforts me, and humbles me with gratitude to think of just how much I got to learn, live, and love.

Andrew Gibson Bendelow, August, 2021, LaGrange Park, Illinois, USA

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