Everyone goes by different names and wears many hats, so to speak, during his or her lifetime. The author of Stories for a Sunday Afternoon is no exception. Members of the extended family described in these stories know him as dad, grandfather, uncle, and father-in-law. Others call him doctor, captain, brother, and friend. Those no longer with us knew him by the most cherished names of son and husband. Many of the stories in this memoir include friends and family and are the product of a lifelong passion for history and genealogy.
Stories for a Sunday Afternoon appeals to a wider audience for many reasons. It describes the life of a member of what has become known as “The Greatest Generation.” Like so many during the years of World War II, Dr. Mires grew up fast to serve his country. An earlier ambition to become a medical missionary came to fruition in the 1950s and 1960s through U.S. government-sponsored work in Thailand and Panama. Several stories about his foreign service not only tell of the lanky physician in pith helmet and khakis in the jungles of Southeast Asia and Central America, they relate the remote village life of his patients to larger contemporary geopolitical and social issues.
Most memoirs, it seems, improve with the age of the author, which underscores the biblical phrase, “With long life is understanding” (Job 12:12). Dr. Mires has seen and experienced a lot in 90 years, from growing up the son of a country veterinarian and grandson of a wagon maker to navigating his way around Cyberspace. This man—who befriended Civil War veterans and treated the wounds of those who fought in the Pacific during World War II—shares his heartwarming and sometimes witty stories with all who care to learn from a life well-lived.
I believe that there comes a time in everyone’s life when he/she feels like setting down a few facts and stories about the family. This combination historical-biographical account contains facts, anecdotes, and sometimes “hearsay” which will supposedly be of interest to other members of the extended family.
The reader will occasionally notice discrepancies, but these can be easily explained by the fact that the stories came from many sources. One relative would tell me something about an ancestor; another would relate the same story, but the details might not agree!
I hope that the reader will enjoy these narratives as much as I enjoyed writing them. The temptation was very strong to call these bits and pieces of family history “The Tales of a Grandfather,” but this would have been pure plagiarism! Our beloved Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott, used that title in a neat little three-volume set written for his grandson in 1828. Fortunately, I have these books in excellent shape which shall eventually be passed on to one of my descendants.
So, read these stories and be justly proud of those in your bloodline who have gone before. You are part of this heritage!
Maynard H. Mires, M.D.