Fifteen years ago yesterday, Daddy died. As it turns out, I spent the anniversary of his death reading from my book-in-progress How to Draw a Nekkid Man at our local library. Daddy would have been thrilled. He loved my writing, enjoying my letters to him almost more than our phone conversations.
I’ve included some short excerpts from the book-in-progress that feature Daddy. If you feel inspired, please help me in completing the manuscript. I’ve recently launched a fundraising campaign to fund a sabbatical year to devote full time to writing my memoir. All donations are tax deductible and the perks are great. Click here for more info — and thanks for your support!
Daddy’s personal filing system was so complete and extensive, if you asked him what he gave me for my 10th birthday, he could pull the gift receipt. Keeping this level of information helped him take appropriate and fair action – if he had a record of sending my older sister 21 roses for her 21st birthday, he would know to send me 21 roses for my 21st birthday, six years later, which he did.
Daddy needed things to be in their place. He labeled everything in our pantry with one of those dial-o-matic labeler things – spreads, dried goods, popcorn popper. Order was essential — in a pantry, in a household, in a society.
Every Sunday afternoon, Daddy, a real estate developer, took Mama and us three kids to look at property. While we kids may have preferred to, I don’t know, ride bikes, Daddy wanted to look at property, so we obediently did what my father wanted to do. As logical as Daddy was, this was not a well thought out plan. On each drive, the three kids would get in a fight in the back seat over something like my brother putting his leg over the imaginary boundary line first, and every time, I would be pulled from the back seat and plopped in the front seat, right between Mama and Daddy to prevent any more outbursts. I was the smallest and the easiest to relocate and they didn’t really care who was right or wrong, they just wanted the noise over. So now Debbie and Jimmy had all that room in the back seat and I was once more stuck in the front seat, even though it wasn’t my fault, but given my family rank, no one bothered to ask me what happened.
As a kid, I knew business was the key to conversation with Daddy — he didn’t really know how to talk to us until we could understand something about real estate. In grade school, I was selected for a gifted children’s program, and I picked the class where you learned how to follow the stock market. I was 10.
Daddy loved country music — Charlie Pride; Willie Nelson; and Eddy Arnold, the yodeling cowboy, singing his cattle call. We had our special songs and one of our favorites was Mr. Bojangles, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band version. Daddy would pick me up at the airport from camp and the 8-track tape would be cued up, ready to play, and we would listen to the song about the man who would dance for you, while he jumped so high. I would cry every time I heard the verse about Mr. Bojangle’s 15-year-old dog dying and him still grieving after 20 years. Daddy always said I could cry at a card trick, but he’d be misty eyed at that verse, too.
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