“It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.”
The most vivid memory I have of my father is a morbid one.
It was after dark, and I was propped up with pillows in bed—a book and pilfered flashlight in hand. My headboard faced the bedroom door and was positioned beneath a window, the moonlight pouring in waves across the Holly Hobbie doll quilt my grandmother—his mother—had sewn for me.
My father entered the room. He was still wearing his work clothes and smelled of grease and smoke. Why he wasn’t asleep and clean of the day’s work, I wasn’t sure.
He asked, “Would you like a glass of water?”
“Yes, please,” I replied.
He nodded and smiled, but before he could turn away, a shot rang from above my head and my father collapsed on the hardwood floor in a dark pool of blood.
Shocked, I was afraid to move and help my father, afraid to move and see what evil person waited outside my window with a gun. The house next door belonged to my uncle, but he would never hurt his own brother. I even wondered if my father’s final breath would wake him if the shot fired had not.
I screamed like a girl on fire.
Moments later, my father ran into my room wearing nothing but white pajamas.
He was no longer on the floor.
“I thought you were dead.”
“Well, I’m not dead. I was in bed asleep, the same as you should be.” He eyed my book, raising a parental brow to my late-night crime. Confused, yet relieved, I shoved the book and flashlight aside, adjusting my covers for sleep.
“Would you like a glass of water?”
“Yes, please.” A glass of water would be nice.