Rest in peace and all that, but he was not a good father. I’d rather not go into details. But one day, when I was a little girl, he brought me a tiny pink eraser from work. I’d been begging for weeks, God knows why.
He tried to share his world with us. When he was growing up in New Braunfels, Texas, the best entertainment in the world was “popping red ants” on railroad tracks with strips of rubber cut from inner tubes. My sister and I were less than enthralled.
We have many pictures of my mother, my sister and me standing by tourist sites and monuments, always squinting. My father believed in bright sunlight.
All four of us could have died during a road trip to California in his ’56 Dodge Lancer. On a closed road in the Mojave, my father flew past a mom-and-pop gas station despite the furnace-like heat blasting us through open windows and a gas gauge getting lower and lower. “Why didn’t you stop?” my mother cried. “Not my brand,” my father said. Probably a penny more. “I can make it to Barstow,” he said. And we did.
Once I accidentally swallowed an ice cube. “How long does it take to melt,” I asked him, anxious. “Seven years,” he replied.
In 1977 my mother introduced him to my boyfriend (now my husband). My father said, “What do you mean he’s Donna’s father? I’m Donna’s father.” Yes, my mother explained, “I was telling him that you’re Donna’s father.” Well, I am Donna’s father, he protested, still vigorously shaking my boyfriend’s hand.
Late in life my father lived on his own. In his apartment I once saw four bananas placed on the counter, each one spaced a little farther out. He told me they were placed in such a way that each banana would ripen at the proper rate.
Eventually my father grew small, sick and frail. Once he asked my younger brother, always clearly the favorite, what he did for a living.
He was not a good father. I miss him anyway.
[originally published by Politics Daily in 2009]