At long last, I begin a book about my father, a book I have long needed to write.
It is a distinct pleasure to recall the man whe invented my first name for me, and had ideas about love well ahead of anything you hear about now.
He never tried to force upon me traditional views of women, and was glad anytime I excelled. He always thought I could, encouraged that. And most of all, he was against spanking. He sadid that something worthy of love should not be hit. I was never spanked. Did not make sense to him. To punish is not to show love, and on that we agree. I grew up seeking alternates, always; I still believe that, is an intrinsic part of me, my core. This belief is my foundaation on which the rest of me is built. This is the part of me that does not waver, no matter what I face; if it is wroth loving, don’t hit it, don’t bully it into obdeience; let it decide that kindness and compassion are better ways, but unless the individual comes to such decisions on her own, she has been bullied into it, and that won’t succeed for long, perpetuated “bullying” as a strategy, instead of someone realizing the advantages, the respect for all, the envionment included, if we love it, we don’t hit it with pollutants etc.
Just how I grew up, the predicate for all of me.
I knew my father until my mid-twenties… He died the year before I graduated from Oberlin, something he would have loved to see… He never met my son born in 1991
–all I can try to give him are my memories. As my father died before the height of the digital age, unlike those of us in it now, I have no recordings of his voice except for an old Webcor tape recorder that I had until I was about ten; at my mother’s house now, somewhere, and if any of the old tapes remain, and we can get them to a facility that can extract material from old reel-to-reel tapes, then we’d have what I most want: to hear his voice again…
Not a problem for those born more recently where even phones take movies and record voice –and of course I’ve written extensively about my father, but are I need to do it more… Yes, a memoir! –I was 26 when he died… I knew him very well is my point, but my son, his only grandchild actually connected to him genetically never knew him… and that’s such a shame, as in so many ways, body type, etc, and certain habits, they are so alike, interests; my father would have loved talking to my son, and as my son has a sperm donor Bangladeshi biological father, he didn’t have a certain closeness and bonding with a man in his life, other than my ex-spouse no relation to my son, and the way I had to become pregnant is an exceedingly ugly story, but it is my story, a story in which my time with my father is nestled. He was a drinker, especially Mr. Boston, and I would go with him to the State Store where such alcohol had to be purchased… Never in the supermarkets, from which we had to use jitneys to bring the groceries home –he always did the grocery shopping, not my mother, and he preferred washing dishes as no one else could get them clean enough, etc.. and so much that I remember, but my son has no memories of him of his own, and there are only a few pictures, and none of them can talk, none of them can move, no holograms for instance… No way to go back to capture anything. My father was a huge fan of the Space program and of scifi movies; he and I would watch them every weekend, especially on a show hosted by Ghoulardi –my mother hated such shows as they eschewed religion…
–of course I knew him, but not long enough… He was truly an ideal father! –and I guess many would say that I was a spoiled daughter…–“spoiled” –as in unrefrigerated meat, produce, milk spoiled as in well past an expiration, or “sell-by”, “use-by” date; rancid odor, that type of thing, but drenched in love is hardly spoiled in my mind….but I wasn’t at all… In a memoir supposedly about my life, “Tale of a Sky Blue Dress“, I have an opening chapter about being a little girl growing up with my parents, but the memoir veers into what happened to me when I was fifteen, rape, pregnancy, abortion in NYC, and my father riding in the car my uncle drove to take me to NY, the only state in the country where abortions were legal in 1970 –I was in the third trimester –such abortions are discouraged, sometimes through violent means, now –that pregnancy especially mars the memory, but life cannot mar “life” –rape and ensuing pregnancy “spoiled me”, ruined me in a way… so this is what to me must have stood out in his mind about me upon his death! –education was so important to him; he was a reader, yet saw none of my books, the first of which “Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman” was published in 1983, three years after his death… I wish he at least could have seen me graduate from Oberlin first in my class, and Phi Beta Kappa! –what an honor for a woman, a Black and Native woman! –this is what I mean; he never knew such truths of me. And now so many books I have written, he would have loved all of them.
He was responsible for getting me books to read beyond my mother’s only choice: the bible:
High time he had his own book. I can’t believe I have waited so long to write it.
Because my father was such a drinker, and that was what my mother most despised about him, I will have to mention my friend Thomas Robert Higginson who would have liked my father as he is, well was.
They are both drinkers, and Thomas Robert would have really liked him. I may have a scene in the book, where these men meet. I can bring the two men who have meant the most of me together. They will meet in the pages.
My father loved baseball, basketball also. football, the superbowl, that is. We will see how much I remember.
My father with one of the cigarettes, combined with inhalation of rubber dust (he worked as a recapper, mostly of semi tires) that killed him. I never knew him with a mustache, unless I simply have forgotten.
image of Mr. Boston from http://www.liquor.com/brands/mr-boston/
My father smoked these exclusively.
When I was two years old, ate one of the cigarette butts from his ashtray aand had to return to the hospital where I was born during a blizzard (I’m told snow covered cars), to have my stomach pumped.