Remembering Daddy

Fam, I woke up feeling so tired. Then, after reading my sister’s group text to our family, I realized why.

My dad passed away two years ago today.

For some reason, my brain won’t let me remember that day.

But my heart? Will never forget it.

To celebrate Daddy, I’m sharing a memory I have of him. A story I’ll always remember.

Hope yaw like it.

Daddy’s Song

Ole lady bluuue

standin’ by the fire

She watches all the children’s joooy

Freedom came just an hour ago-oh-oh

Bop da da

I can’t remember how old I was when I first heard Daddy sing his song. I must have been between seven and nine, I think, because momma and Daddy hadn’t divorced yet and he was still living in the house. 

It was late or maybe it was early. Daddy worked long hours as a skilled tradesman and master plumber, so sometimes he worked days, sometimes he worked nights. Either way, he was home, and I woke up to the sound of him singing. 

He wasn’t loud. In fact, Daddy was almost whispering. And as I crept downstairs, I found him hunched over our kitchen table, crooning into his tape recorder. 

Eeeemancipation!

Ole Mr. Lincoln done set up free

Dah daah dah daaaah

Now he’s comin’ after me-eee-eee

“Daddy?”

He jumped, not expecting to see me. 

“Ooh, Baby, you scared me. What you doin’ up?”

“I heard you. What you singin’?”

Daddy smiled, pulled me up on his lap. 

“A song I wrote. I need to get out of my head, so I’m singing it into my tape recorder. Then, I’m gonna mail it to myself.”

“Why you doin’ that?”

“To protect it, Baby, so nobody can take it from me.”

I looked at Daddy’s tape recorder, confused. See, I started writing poems when I was seven and the way I protected them was by scribbling them down in a notebook that I wouldn’t let anybody see. 

But Daddy was a grownup. And I didn’t know this as a child, but he was also an artist. He wrote poetry and songs and even toyed with the idea of becoming an actor when he landed in San Francisco after being discharged from Vietnam.

I got my gift of writing from Daddy.

My creativity.

My imagination.  

And Daddy…

Well, he did what young Americans did in the 1970s.

He got married. He had kids. He got a job.

And the only time he allowed himself to dream about being more was when he sang songs alone in our kitchen into his tape recorder when the rest of the world was sleeping. 

“Baby, you know what a copyright is?”

I had no idea. 

“It’s something you need to protect yourself when you write something…a song, a poem, a story. But it’s expensive.  So, I’m doing what they call a po’ man’s copyright.”

I looked at Daddy, alarmed. 

“Are we po’, Daddy?!”

“Naw, Baby. Naw. But until Daddy can afford to do the real thing, mailing my song to myself is just as good, because a post mark is a government seal. And the government is the government, understand?”

I didn’t. I would later as I grew older and started copyrighting my own poetry and plays. 

But in that moment, as the indigo sunrise leaked through our kitchen shades, I was getting sleepy. So, I just asked Daddy to teach me his song. 

And he did. 

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