A Long Considered Book Review

Image: A Book Review by Teri Case

The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir by Dikkon Eberhart

I read The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir by Dikkon Eberhart twice several months ago. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, wondering how to write a review that would do his book justice. As an author, I’m humbled to admit that I’ve settled on the fact that I cannot. I’ll admit I’ve been suffering comparisonitis, even about writing a review! Forgive me now for the weak structure of my review and for my seemingly disjointed thoughts because while I might appear to be all over the place, I assure you, Eberhart’s memoir was not.

Book Cover: The Time Mom Met Hitler ... by Dikkon Eberhart

First, Eberhart’s prose is welcoming, smooth, and poetic. The reader can’t help but sink into his words and storytelling. In fact, from this point on, I’ll refer to the author by his first name because his memoir makes him feel like a lifetime friend. 

Second, Dikkon’s point of view pulled me in immediately. I laughed, worried, and contemplated with him from beginning to end. As an author and English Literature major, I was enthralled by his first-hand accounts of family friends, Robert Frost, T. S. Eliot, Robert Lowell, Dylan Thomas, and more. (If only I could travel back in time and correct a few of my professors and tell them what Robert Frost intended when he wrote The Road Less Travelled.) The stories he shares about his family, including his relationship with his poet laureate father, were so vivid, I could imagine his memoir as a documentary. I even imagined his voice narrating the book while I read along, making it a memoir I might re-read once a year. It relaxed me, and yet, it made me pause and compare his life to mine.

Seldom will a memoir compel me to reflect on my life and choices, but this memoir did. I appreciate how he had to find his voice in a talented, strong-voiced family while surrounded by celebrated poets and literary talents. Anyone who has read Tiger Drive knows I did not grow up in a family exactly like Dikkon’s, but I was raised in a family where I felt like the adult sometimes, which caused me constant worry, and I always questioned my place, if I belonged with them. However, my dreams of being an author were my own (though my dad did always say that I’d grow up to be an artist). There were no writers in my family to compare myself to, and no poets with expectations about my work. Writing is a vulnerable experience. I wonder if I would have tried to write anything if I had been in Dikkon’s shoes? I’m so glad he did!

Something happens in Dikkon’s life that he regrets for years. It is one of those whisper-moments, a second where you know something is off or wrong, but you trust that someone else has his/her finger on the button, ready to act, because why wouldn’t he/she be on top of things? You wonder, What do I know? Who am I to question someone’s job and performance? In Dikkon’s instance, someone else didn’t have a watchful eye, and a life-changing event occurred. It’s a resonating moment, because I’ve had a moment like this, one where I sensed something was wrong, but I over-thought, hemmed and hawed, and I didn’t say anything until it was too late.

This resonating moment is the reason Dikkon’s memoir sits solidly with me months later. We share a regret, or life-lesson, and found peace and forgiveness via somewhat similar routes, proving to me, once again, that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and heal.

After years of carrying the burden of his whisper-moment, Dikkon finds grace, understanding, and faith at a church across the street from his house. He finds forgiveness within a community of people with their troubles; People who were grateful to be supported, and in return, reciprocate the help.

I also turned to my church after my whisper-moment in the nineteen-eighties, but when the pastor I trusted left and a new pastor with a different approach and voice that didn’t suit me arrived, I left and never looked back. Perhaps it was this difference that made me pause the longest: Dikkon committed to his faith as a result of the community—he found grace and God within the pews and amongst the people, while I came to believe that I never had faith in a god as much as I had loved the first pastor, and his stories and sermons. When he left, the church felt empty to me. The flock switched gears and took on the new pastor’s ideas. But during those few informative years I attended, I gathered philosophies that helped me heal, too, and I moved forward happy and healthy. I still value and apply what I learned then.

One final seemingly disjointed comment. Dikkon shares a poignant moment with his wife, Channa, after unexpected news about their new baby. These wise words will always stick with me, and I’ve repeated them several times to friends and family members who are facing life changes and challenges:

“We know what we’ve lost. We don’t know what we’ve gained.”

Thank you, Dikkon Eberhart, for being you and for sharing your life story. It will remain with me always.

As I type this, Dikkon is focusing on living his life authentically and working on a new book. To quote his March 2019 post,

“And there’s also a new book, now, three-quarters done.  It’s waiting within the walls of my laptop to tell me, at last, what it is about…which I don’t know yet. 
 
But that can’t happen until I live the book out, in life, and discover what it is about. 

And that’s why I’m closing down for a time.  To concentrate on living my life out with authenticity, humility, and succinctness.”

You can order Dikkon’s memoir, The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir by clicking here, and I am also gifting one digital copy via Amazon to one of my newsletter subscribers. If you’re a subscriber and would like to be included in the drawing, please reply to this email.

You can learn more about Dikkon and catch up on his three-topics blog and more via his website at www.dikkoneberhart.com, but remember, there won’t be new material for a while because he is busy breathing, believing, and being.

When you read Dikkon’s memoir, let me know what you think; I’m sure I’ll have additional revelations about his memoir by then.

Until next time and as always, thanks for being you.

Teri

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