At the urging of friends, family, and others both inside and outside the Temple community, I have begun the process of writing a book about my life experiences, including my involvement with the Temple. I am lucky that I have a professional writer to guide me through the process, as well as a publisher who is interested in bringing the final work to a reality.
The book is a memoir. It details the loss of multiple families throughout my life, starting at the moment of my birth.
I was the second child to my mother born out of wedlock, and she was unable to take care of me. My birth mother was a member of C. L. Franklin’s church in Detroit, as was my grandmother. As the story goes, my grandmother had a friend in the church who was able to adopt me. She considered me a gift, but my birth mother was lost to me.
And then there was my father, summoned back to Detroit to witness my birth. He brought his new family with him, people who knew nothing of me. As my eldest sister told me 50 years later, he took her with him to the hospital to see me. Carolyn told me that he said, “That’s your little brother. Don’t tell your mother.”
Unbeknownst to me, before I even left the hospital, I had lost two families.
And so it began: the life of a boy who was always an adult and who faced much too much tragedy before Jonestown and witnessed racism, classicism, poverty and disdain, before and after the things that people think defines my life. I hope to show, there was more.
(Eugene Smith was in Georgetown on November 18 clearing items from customs. Numerous members of his family – including his mother, wife, and infant son – died in Jonestown. His previous articles in the jonestown report may be found here. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)