Life is not easy for an Army Brat.
After losing her father, Marilyn Morris is shocked to learn that he won’t be buried in his military uniform. Have spent more years retired than in the US Military, he would be buried as a civilian. For her entire life, her father lived and breathed the US Military; and, consequently, so did she.
From 1938 up until she finished college in 1958, Morris lived the life of a military brat, whether she wanted to or not. Always on the move, never able to make close friendships, never staying in one place for a long time. Such was the life of a military brat and Morris had no choice but to live in it.
Her father had called them gypsies; able to move at a moments notice to parts unknown, able to adapt to any given situation; able to survive. That is what life is for a military brat: survival. Morris was taught lessons in life that others never learn and she knew that these events shaped her, molded her into what she is today.
After her father’s death, these lessons, these memories, started to come to her, to come out from behind the locked doors of her mind. And so Morris had no choice but to write them down, to put pen to paper and let the memories come out.
Having never been a military brat, the scope of this book is incredible. It shows just how much will humans have to survive in any given situation. Not so much a memoir but instead a patchwork quilt of memories, Morris’ Once A Brat is a testament to the power of the human heart.
I found as I was reading this incredible piece of work that I would be pulled into the story, pulled into the life that Morris had to live because of her father. Then I would sit back and have to remind myself: all of this happened. All of this is real.
The concept was frightening to me, shocking. That a family could stick together and indeed become stronger for living a military life was incredible. Morris was taught values and morals that most don’t learn until well into their adult years.
When Morris talks of living in Korea, of having to learn to adapt to a whole new culture, a whole new way of life, you can feel her anguish pouring out onto the page. But you can also feel her wonder, her sheer delight at discovery of all things different.
Morris shines brightest, of course, when she talks of life then and compares it to life now. It’s as if she’s talking right to you, right into your heart, and you can do nothing but read her words and absorb them. They are not merely words, but true pieces of wisdom, pieces of knowledge that speak to your heart and spark your soul into being.
I am not normally so drawn in by non-fiction. I find that most memoirs are dry as day old toast and boring. I’ve tried to read several memoirs and failed mostly because there is no story, there is no life. With Once a Brat, Morris doesn’t just tell me a story; she helps me live her life while I read it. I felt, saw, experienced everything she did as I read one gorgeous page after another.
Once a Brat is no mere book. It is a case study of human strength, of the willingness to survive and the ability to love beyond all reason. It is a testament to the fact that, though the present seems bleak, there is hope in the future. I can’t stress how wonderful this memoir his; how, in its simplicity, it accomplished what so many memoirs fail to do. It helped me feel.
And it helped me believe that anything is possible. If you haven’t read Once a Brat yet, you have no idea what you’re missing.