Men are not always missing in Black families or in my stories or life. My fortune came when I was blessed to have two Daddies: Emmitt Dean and James Douglas.
Both of my fathers served in the Vietnam War for a good deal of time. Memorial Day.
I carry one's name.
I carry one's blood.
They even went to the same high school, which was my middle school. Dunbar.
They were each completely different in their future goals.
One was a musician and sketchist--a true artist.
One was a respiratory therapist, an entrepreneur--a true independent.
Both were determined in a time when even determination was mocked, stolen, or killed.
One smoked marijuana like cigarettes and even cultivated, baked, and sold the now medical eyebrow-raising herb.
One drank every single day and sometimes started early in the day.
Both were happy blisses under the influence.
One married once only.
One married three times and got it right in the end.
One gave me liberty and taught me to be creative even in the worst of times.
One tried to control me with an intent to do good but taught me to appreciate old things and recurring mistakes.
One perpetuated my quiet gift of singing next to his Hammond B3.
One taught me how to drive a standard out of necessity and emergency.
One lived life by the minute, by and with shortcuts believing that thinking long term can often turn out to be a fated hoax.
One lived life with a dire plan understanding that survival requires thinking ahead.
Drugs, lies, infidelity and pawn shops
An exaggerated desire to own property and a belief in abortion for college
Their respective personalities and lives were founded in early departures to Vietnam. At times, they each were not sure why they were fighting, why they were there.
One is still alive; one recently passed, but neither could explain why the Vietnam War happened, why they were each called to an unclear duty for their country. That named thing--failure of American policy.