Monday, May 28, 2012

FOR ROBERT EARL DAVIS

I don't have many photos of my father; this one was taken just a few months before he died. His wife has most of the snapshots and she and I don't really get along; we last spoke at my father's funeral, and that was in 2005. Funny: the seven-year anniversary is about a month away, and I didn't even think about that until now.

Dad was an odd man. He spent the first dozen years of his life in an orphanage in Indiana, after his mother couldn't afford to raise her kids (this was in the depths of the Great Depression). As far as my father knew, his mother was dead — so imagine his surprise when a loud redhead rolls in and announces she's come to take him home. No wonder he was a little strange.

He had his prejudices but he married a Japanese woman. He wasn't an educated man, but I remember finding a writing tablet filled with song lyrics — poignant words, wonderful writing. He couldn't read music but he could play pretty much every instrument put in his hands.

He was a warrior in Korea, but I don't know much about that — only that he was wounded, that he was awarded a Purple Heart, that he used to talk about how cold it was over there, cold and terrifying for a man of 22, who probably wondered why he had to endure such a rough hell.

He was sensitive, almost to a fault. He was caring and giving. He was cold and unyielding. He was a charmer and a cruel man, heartfelt and heartless. He was my father, and on this Memorial Day I remember him.

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