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The Silent Writer

September 1, 2012

I lost my father yesterday, and the world lost an eccentric, hidden genius.

Daddy (I’m from the south–even my older brother still calls him “Daddy”) was a country boy. No–he wouldn’t agree to that. He was a mountain boy, raised in the hills of Eastern Tennessee, a home he loved and cherished even though the military sent him around the world, from Alaska to Vietnam, with hardly the chance to live there again. He lost his dad when he was young and joined the army so he could send money home for his younger brothers and sisters. Most people would call him a hillbilly, especially when they heard that accent (“I-talyen”), but my dad was one of the most learned men I’ve ever met. He read everything he could get his hands on. He could tell you the entire plot of a book just by reading the first and last chapters. He knew the histories of most countries around the world, and you didn’t want to get into a discussion about religion….

Every few weeks, I would call him and tell him my latest story ideas, and he would tell me his. This wasn’t anything new. At four years old, he had me telling him stories, and he was shoving new books into my hands. My brother and sisters and I were reading “Les Miserables” and “A Tale of Two Cities” by thirteen years old. Our dinner table was a trivia session. We all would toss out questions and see who could answer the fastest. His goal was not only that his children were moral people but educated ones who wouldn’t take anything at face value but question everything. Some would see this as a fault, but I see this as… well, Daddy.

I called him on his last birthday and told him I finally finished a novel and that it would be posted online in a few days. I’d waited and waited for years, hoping that one day it’d be a published book, but I went ahead… and I’m glad I did. I’m glad he got to see it. And after that, he began writing and writing. He’s always wanted to be a writer but never had the time or health to finish books. He told me he was writing down all of his plots and would mail them to me so I could edit them and post them online. Last week, I asked him if he’d sent them yet. He said he hadn’t but that he would send them to me anyway, so I could finish them. I now know what he meant.

I have a lot of my dad to give to my son. I can tell him how he gave up everything–his goals, his life–to provide for his brothers and sisters and for his children. I can teach him to love literature and to love knowledge. But I hope I can give more of him to the world by finishing those stories and finally making Daddy a published author.

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From → Writing

One Comment
  1. Well said. We’ll get them finished together, and let everyone know about when he “a little girl”. And we’ll keep it going–I’ll tell you about Papa’s Book Day when you get here. I think the only thing more important to him than books was family–and I think he succeeded in both counts. Love you guys.

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