@poetryinmotion @tyrntlzrdking @194angellstreet @bluefingreg
May 1966. On my Dad's boat. From left to right looking at the photo: My sister K. (one of 3 half-sisters from Dad's 1st marriage, Dad and myself. i was at that time self-conscious about my glasses and had taken them off. Good bit of info needed to understand the importance of this event. I was part of the SCLC/Scope summer project (Martin Luther King's Civil Rights organization). We had a long weekend after work on a primary in Alabama, during which we were encouraged to do something for ourselves. Since 'Freedom House' where we were based was in Atlanta, Ga. i hopped on bus for Tampa, Fl. arriving in late afternoon at my father's house. No-one was home. He and wife #5 (Mom was #2) were not expecting me. i had not seen him in almost a decade, or had contact with him despite my writing twice in that time. i had not seen K. in 7 yrs but we corresponded sporadically. She had driven up to Atlanta, only to learn i wasn't there. By the time she called Dad, unsure of what to do, he had found me asleep on his back patio, and tearfully introduced me to his wife, June as 'my Baby' ("Oh, i thought, "i didn't imagine all these years our connection, his love"). She headed back to Tampa and this was taken over that weekend.
At that point in my life i had an inkling of my father's emotional issues...met and interacted with my paternal relatives, and that is what gave me the courage to seek him out. i still hadn't processed and 'reframed' our relationship: He'd been the biggest influence on my first decade (taught me to read and do math before i went to school among other things). Then years of silence from him. A couple of days later K would drive me back to Atlanta. James Meredith was shot walking into Mississippi, and K ended up coming with me to Meredith March.
But the big change going forward was i could pick up the phone and call Dad. He was not one to 'reach out' (due to his issues, deeply wounded man)...but he was 'there' for me from then on, when i needed him. He died in 1995 (i was with him in his home), but the older i get the more i realize how profoundly he had shaped my character, and how grateful i am to have had him as a father, flaws (and he had them big time) and all.