Tapping the storehouse of joy

By on November 14, 2010

‘Healing Memories ’author reflects on his life
by Lynn Meredith
Geneva—In his career in the senior living industry, Dick Hattan hears seniors talking daily, all day long, about their memories. They wonder why they have lived this long, and what the purpose of it all is. He himself has discovered a way to ponder these “big” questions and come up with his own answers. He has written and published a book of poems on the topic of healing.

“Let these poetic pieces heal your memories and give memories to your healing,” Hattan, a Geneva resident, wrote. “By this I mean that we have a storehouse of joy in our memories from childhood to adolescence, and adulthood that we can reflect on.”

“Healing Memories” is a book of 30 poems that follow Hattan’s life from his Catholic school childhood on the southwest side of Chicago to his military service in Vietnam. The poems were all written in the last year or so, but have given Hattan a way to deal with the feelings of over 30 years ago.

“They helped me get in touch with feelings I had, and some that I didn’t even know that I had,” Hattan said. “The idea of healing became very important to me. Writing poetry dredged up feelings from 30 years ago. I’ve been healed, and it doesn’t bother me anymore.”

A portion of one poem on returning home from Vietnam expresses the feeling he had at how Vietnam vets were greeted:

“For the parade that never was,
Welcome home.
For the returning warrior’s missing mantle,
Welcome home.
For the burning flag’s empty flame,
Welcome home.
For the wounds that never healed,
Welcome home. (p. 33)”

Although Hattan has written poetry for 20 years, this last year as a graduate student in theology at the Chicago Theological Seminary inspired him to write and publish a book.

“There are things I needed to do, and one of those was to write poetry and publish a book,” Hattan said. “Poetry allows me to express emotions much more forcefully than say a journal or short story or a paper.”

Besides his childhood and military service, Hattan also writes about his religious background, family life and hobbies. He includes black-and-white family photos with each poem.

“It’s very personal. The poetry reads almost like a story. I choose things from ordinary life,” Hattan said. “I can’t think of a greater legacy to my child than by sharing with them the memories in this book.

“Healing Memories” is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Town House Books in St. Charles.