My earliest memories of my father are from Natchitoches, LA. The town in which he went to high school. I won't say it is the town he "grew up" in because that probably would not be altogether true.
I remember going "around town" with him on many occasion. He would say to me that I knew more people in town than he did as I would introduce him to people that I had met or knew along the way of my "young" life.
I remember the fighting. I remember my parents fighting loudly and passionately against each other. I don't remember what they fought about. I don't remember my father lying a hand on me, or anyone in the household when we lived in Louisiana but they fought loudly with words.
I remember my father calling the police when his shotgun was stolen. He loved to hunt and his shotgun was a necessity. He hunted deer, and squirrel and rabbit and even frogs. He cooked them all too, he loved "good food" and knew how to bring it to the table. I remember eating all of that wild game too and as far as I can remember I enjoyed it. I especially remember the squirrel gumbo and fried frog legs. He learned to cook by spending a lot of time at his "Grandma Kay's House" that was always full of bounty either from the gardens or the woods. His mom, really wasn't a big cook, but he was........ truly a chef. He enjoyed eating and it became a centerpiece of our life together throughout the years. At home growing up, (according to the stories he told me) he felt like there was never enough to fill his stomach and he would find ways to make his way over to other homes to eat his "fill." After he called the police .......I asked him why he did that........he said maybe they could find out where it "disappeared to" and left the room. I had been missing a doll....... I was about 4 years old..... I wanted them to find my doll too.......I picked up the phone and reported that my doll was missing to the operator on the other end. I don't know what ever happened as a result of that call, but I remember being scared that my Dad would find out I copied him.
My Dad taught me how to ride a bicycle. I remember the day well. I remember being so proud that I really could do it and looked backwards to see his smiling face......at the same time I turned the handlebars backwards and wrecked..... he made me get right back on that bike and try again..... never acknowledging the tears but rather ...... saying to me..... you did it once now this time "don't look back!" I always wanted to do well to please my Dad as a little girl..... and I think I did.
My Dad loved animals . He loved them so much that we had way too many of them most of the time. We always had a dog and many many cats. I don't think he knew what "getting your animals fixed" meant. I can remember having over 20 cats at once , if you counted up all of the kittens that had kittens and a German Shephard. He liked to breed the dogs and once had a solid white German Shephard that he named after me, Lady Angela. She was beautiful and made him lots of extra dollars on the side. I learned about sex through watching the animals breed...... at an early age that sound they made and the spraying them with water to "unhook" them was quite traumatic to me, especially when I was told this is how they "made babies." I remember thinking that I would never have a baby...... if this is how you made them. I would imagine people being in pain and sprayed with water to make a baby...... why anyone would choose to do that escaped my young brain. I never knew of a time that my Dad didn't have at least one animal. Even when he lived in apartments that did not allow animals or "kids" to live there, he had both (a cat & me).
My dad moved my family to Virginia for his job and to "work on" his marriage. They uprooted our family from all of my wonderful relatives to "fix" themselves. My Dad had finished college and had accepted a job with Firestone. We rented a house on WOOLRICH street until they bought one on SHELBY DRIVE. I don't have a lot of memories from either place but the ones I do have , I have or will write about. I think we only made one or two trips back to Louisiana during the time they were together as a family, until I was 9 years old. They did not ever fix themselves, things only got worse because there were no relatives here in VA to help out or save them. They fought and their fights trickled over to me and I got in the way of a few of them. I took the brunt of many fits of anger and the firewater that fueled them. The furniture delivery guy, the guy that sold my father his patio furniture delivered it while my father was working and became ...... the catapult for us leaving the house and all of our belongings and my dad.
My dad had a big ole bon fire in the yard and burned our belongings on Shelby Drive. We were whisked to a neighbors house and then went in hiding while the dating was done ..... the furniture guy, Johnny, another guy that worked at Golden Skillet and another guy with crippled hands that I'll call Frank, that all wanted to date my mother. My life changed in a blink of an eye and the father , my dad, became the "bad guy." The guy that I was told wanted to hurt us. It was proven the night I told my dad on the phone that my mother was out with Johnny and we were at home with no one. That night I was awakened and my Father was in our apartment ....... I heard yelling and running and the banging of furniture and doors, I saw my father beat down Johnny and throw him into a closet and push my mother into a dresser drawer. He yelled for me to "get out of the way, because he was going to get a gun and kill this son of a bitch!" The police were called and I was put back to bed at a neighbors house ......he didn't kill him, he didn't do anything else , this was the last time I was to see my father for several years.
The next time I heard anything about my Dad, I saw him because they finally "tracked him down" to get "child support." My life had changed drastically for the worse. I was now living from subsidized apartment to subsidized apartment complex, was considered "poverty level" by the state, as my mother made her way through jobs and the system to make the best life for herself that she could. Unfortunately the quest to better her life, ruined my young life as I knew it and the relationship I had with my father for a time. I was the babysitter of my brother who was mentally challenged and displayed outbursts of physical anger and had speech impediments. My father was absent...... but I knew that he was out there some where and would rescue me one day. I was reminded constantly that he didn't care about me or us and the proof was that he didn't contact us and pay my mother money to see us. I was told about all of his flaws......his relationship with alcohol, his bad relationship with his mother, his temper and the lack of attention he was giving "the kids."
I saw my Dad a handful of times in that time period of 9 years old until I went to live with him when I was 15. During those years, my father was my confidant. I could tell him what was bothering me and he would make me feel better...... I loved his visits to VA but I was never allowed to go to Louisiana to visit my family there.
He would eventually dispel the lies that I had been told and encourage me to do well in school. He wanted me to be a lawyer, and promised me that when I was old enough to drive he would buy me that Datsun 280Z that I wanted. He bought me the roller skates that my mother wouldn't. He taught me what dental floss was, blue cheese dressing and how to cook. He replaced my "antiquated" eye glasses and paid for my braces to straighten my teeth. He didn't really know the life of secrets I had been living and I didn't know his......until we lived together when I was 15.
That is when I became a "mafia princess" a little girl trying to be a grown up in the big city of New Orleans that quickly became my home. I found that I "fit" there much better in the warmth of the city culture that I had never felt before in the coldness of Virginia. The unconditional love that I had there from my relatives and my friends and even their relatives saved me from my worst enemy..... myself .......and the secrets I held in the county of Chesterfield VA.
I was in danger but safer in my fathers world than I was in the suburbs of VA...... where the secrets and manipulations of "family life" were much more dangerous than the city streets of organized crime and that "family" that I was becoming to know. I know that sounds hard to believe but the truth will all be revealed through other humans that will come to life in the pages of the blog.
I lived with my Dad in New Orleans for two years before I got married and went out on my own , a whole 16 years old (almost 17) when I got married. My dad walked me down that aisle as he did many other "aisles" in my life time none of which were "right" or "good" in the eyes of many.
My Dad eventually moved back "home" to Natchitoches and moved his mother back "home" too. He lived there day by day on the water, fishing and hunting ...... but this time not for "game" but rather for "peace." The peace he never found in his lifetime.
My Dad remarried in Natchitoches, "between hands in a card game".......yep thats right , you cannot make that stuff up...... he lost a bet, a bet that he thought he "won." He would have a wife that would cook , clean, cut the grass and help with his plethora of animals that would live with him, help with his mom and the cherry on top would be sexual favors as well........how perfect was that? She even liked to fish! All he had tohad to do was share his "house on the river" and provide house de health insurance for her. That was easy for him to do. When he called to tell me, he was shocked that I was not happy for him. I wanted him to marry someone te that he "knew" a bit better and that wanted to know his family. He told me that she "wasn't in to all of that" but could cook and and cut the grhis woulgrass" " and they had a "deal." aboue nneesthas wasW. o and I wa\She , help with his momalso ve
I tried to take their relationship as just that..... a convenience marriage. One that benefitted them both. I even got to a point where I thought she may have even of been good for him for a while...... I had heard tales of this woman, but I had never been one for listening to rumors.
As my Dad outlived most predictions and tribulations. He lost a kidney, part of his colen, teeth, hair, money, lung capacity and more due to his lifestyle, he continued to live. He never lost his job and actually retired from the state in good standing. There were several "close calls" but this "tough guy" made it through just fine, each time. Each time he did the clearer it became that this wife of his wanted EVERYTHING he owned. She even told me a few times that she has a will, and he signed everything over to her. The laws in Louisiana changed too, making this possible for her to get away with. I spoke to my Daddy about it many times, he told me the story that was riddled with black mail that she had made him sign it or he would lose his job .........it would disgrace him. He asked me not to make waves over it because he could "handle it" and would make sure that didn't happen.
Then the day did come, the day of reckoning....... and just as I had to tell my dad the bad news about "Johnny" in the past, I had to tell my Dad about "Pat" and the betrayal and the use of his monies to support the relationship and cause. I just knew that this was the time that he would finally get out of the grips of the will he signed so long ago and that threat would become a memory, a bad memory in the past.
My Dad.......... his story cannot all be told in one blog post , it will be told in a book one day...... but the sad truth of it all ...... is that my father's fatal flaw was his greatest strength ....... the things he enjoyed in life .......took his life, his breath, his dignity and shattered it all........he died not in peace but in a war .......a war unlike the one he fought in Viet Nam, unlike the fight with Johnny, and unlike the Mafia, and unlike the fight with alcoholism. This fight that he fought in the end, he lost and put the gloves in my hands to take over......
He didn't take care of it. He thought he did.
he spoke from the grave to me with those words he told to one of his closest friends..........
My Dad, like his ancestors, searched for "no mans land" on which to hide. He could be in a small crowd or a large one and blend in or stand out, depending on his mission. He had a stride of confidence and a gait of self conciousness that in the end clashed but while he was alive made a huge difference in my life. He was the man that would put the cocoanut under his suit jacket for me when the restaurant told him "they were not for sale. " Like a Robinhood........ he stole from those that took things for granted and gave to those that did not. From his childhood tales of hiding under the porch of the Pecan Factory before they opened or after they closed and collect all of the pecans that fell through the cracks of the porch to the ground. They took the time to gather them up, bag them up and then sell them to the factory themselves. These were the 'throw away" pecans to many......... the ones that fell out of the bag ...........the ones that know one took the time to pick up and make into something.............it wasn't worth it. The pecans, like him, felt for most of his life like the "throw away" because he never knew his Dad. We talked about this many times. ..........
The shocker? He became a man that had a daughter and a son that did not really know him......... and that daughter, wasn't me. This will come as quite a shock to most of the people that knew and knows of my dad. That is............except for a few close friends. The quietness.........the guy that didn't have a dad, became the father of a girl that would never know her dad. My dad never pursued that relationship, my grandmother nor any of her relatives ever spoken to me about it. Another person outside of the family told me this .............and I asked my Dad.............and he answered, "yes." We had a discussion about it. One discussion and I, nor he ever brought it up again. Now that he is gone...........I feel that I can. I will try to find this person now........he asked me to do it, but not while he was living and told me where to start looking. I will very soon.
There are many "shockers" about my dad, but none could touch "the shocker" about until his death.
You see he really died before his time. He died on the 11th the 11th of Auguest at age 74. He was actually having the best time of his life. I know this because he told me so. He was sober for the 4th year last April. He received a coin from his AA group. They gave me one to honor him when I had the pleasure of going to his meeting right after he died. It has on it (IV, which is also his legal name, in addition to representing the 4 years he was sober) They call them "chips" , I call it "my Dad." He would talk to me about his chips, he was a numbers man in more ways than one. He was proud of this ......... but he wasn't proud about what he had been doing the last few months. My Dad...........
He didn't start drinking again, although there are those that would like to make you think he did. He had started smoking again and gambling. He was visiting the Casinos every day and quickly ranked the title of "Saphire Member" on his identification card he used there. He was eating big steaks and had just stayed for two nights at the hotel in a "suite." When he talked, his voice was "singing" again, he was happy with his life. He was retired, he was able to collect 100% of his benefits from his job in a government position of power. He had served his country, his children were grown and gone and he didn't have any responsibility for anyone but himself, AA, and his mom, my grandmother.
He want "on pause" (11) on the remote button , something I just learned from a child on television, the day he died was Auguest 11. coincidence? I don't really know. but I do believe he is not gone yet....... to the other side, he has yet to be laid to rest. He isn't at peace, he cannot be......... So it has become my job to protect my grandmother from your death.........she doesn't even know............and wont until she goes to the other side. I fear that this time isn't far in the future. She will be mad at first, that I kept the news of your death from her....... but i did this in love. You see ............ My Dad.......... was the reason my Grandmother BREATHED. She would just lie in that hospital bed and grieve, much of the time alone, and become depressed....... I cannot do that i cannot allow that .......... I just cannot. My dad also hid from my grandmother the fact that he and his wife were not divorced. there was a reason he did that....... but it wasn't to save her feelings, it was to save his face with the family.
My Dad....... the oxymoron ............ in every sense that he "WAS" he also "WASN'T. He was one of those people that told it like it was , well at least thats what you THOUGHT he was telling you. Being his daughter, the probably one that has known him the best for the longest period of time in his life that I could have written the story of the end of his life.........better than he could........ that is a heavy burdon to bear but I will do it in a way that honors your memory and rewrites the truth so that you can get off of "pause" and End the Secrecy that shrouds everything .