Many of us feel we know and love John Grogan's rambunctious dog Marley and, by extension, Grogan himself. The author treats us to more of his hilarious and heartbreaking storytelling in this memoir centered on his beloved parents.
The senior Grogans lived their lives around the Catholic Church. They attended mass, collected and displayed religious objects in their home (at one time, John counted 42 Virgin Marys alone) and entertained priests. On vacations, they trekked to holy miracle sites. John's parents were deeply religious, always guided by the Church. Immaculate Conception was a fact, and each of the Grogan children honored that miracle in their names: Mary Josephine, Timothy Joseph, Michael Joseph and John Joseph.
Young John was a rambunctious handful who had a hard time even sitting still. He recalls his young boyhood as a "dreamy, wondrous time," filled with his warm, loving parents, his siblings and his many neighborhood pals. The setting for his childhood was the marvelous Harbor Hills near Detroit, where the boys congregated on The Outlot, a grassy field surrounding a boat basin. In the summer, John and his buddies swam in the lake. But no matter what the Grogan children did, they realized they were first and foremost Catholics. That knowledge comforted them when they were very young, but it came along with an expectation that would haunt John his entire life. The elder Grogans dreamed that their kids would grow up as deeply believing, practicing Catholics. And that turned out to be a problem.
Even as a boy, John had issues with Catholic expectations. In 1964, the nuns at his Our Lady of Refuge school began preparing his class for a milestone: their First Holy Confession. John was just a second-grader but already had lust issues. He was smitten with the next-door neighbor, Mrs. Selahowski, who spent every sunny moment working on her tan in a tiny two-piece bathing suit. John knew that coveting his neighbor's wife was a grave mortal sin. Yet he managed to top it by imagining a bit of a strip tease performed by his teacher, young Sister Mary Lawrence. Although the disrobing was only in his mind, the physical effect was quite visible to all when he was called upon to stand and read. Ho