Memoir Monday: The Bill from My Father

Memoirs have the power to move us, connect with us and allow us to share life changing experiences with people we’d otherwise never have the chance to know. Every Monday, we’re pleased to feature a memoir and open a window to someone else’s life.

This past weekend a majority of families celebrated Father’s Day. For all of us who have ever reflected on our father/son or father/daughter dynamic, this is the memoir for you.

As The Bill from My Father begins, Bernard Cooper and his father are the last remaining members of the family that once included his mother, Lillian, and three older brothers. Now with the elder Cooper slowly succumbing to dementia, Bernard is determined to capture a coherent picture of the Cooper family history and rebuild his relationship with his father. At his quirky best, Edward Cooper is a humourous cliché of an old man who fiddles with his hearing aid yelling “What? I can’t hear you.” Only to chide you afterward that there’s no need to shout. Like the title of the memoir suggests, Bernard recalls a bill his father once sent him for the total cost of his upbringing and itemized invoice adding up to 2 million dollars. But at his worst, Cooper Sr. is distant, petty and mean. Edward is intensely secretive and Bernard only learns about certain aspects of his father’s life through chance documents – such as some peculiar documents involving lawsuits against other family members.

With his razor-sharp wit and unsparing honesty, Bernard Cooper peels back layers of the familiar, exposing the surprising truths that shape our lives. The Bill from My Father is a penetrating meditation on both monetary and emotional indebtedness, and on the mysterious nature of memory and love. Read an excerpt from his memoir.