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continued from page made me ….

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made me feel like burying my face in a pillow and screaming for an hour.

There are literally thousands of stories I’ve never heard about my father. He died in 1992. He’s been gone a long time. His name almost never comes up in conversation any more, which breaks my heart. And when his name is mentioned, it is usually regarding something I already know. Hearing the story about the trip to Michigan hit home the fact that there is so much about him I don’t know — and will never know — and time is running out for me to gather up the stories.

Sometimes when I visit my father’s sister (Sybol Toole, now in her nineties) or his brother (Lamar Lanier, now in his eighties), I ask each of them to share a memory of my father with me. I knew him as a father. They knew him as a sibling.

I’m thirsty to hear the stories. Like water from a hose, I want to gulp them down until I can drink no more. I am reminded of something Carmen Deedy shared with me last year. She said, “If the heirloom we pass down to our children is a story, it is a mighty thing . . . A story is indestructible — almost. Its very existence relies on one immutable necessity. A story must be told.”


I will continue to ask people to tell me about the man who helped bring me into this world, the man who helped raise me, the man who flew to Michigan, bought a new car, and drove it 1,000 miles home to Georgia in a time before Garmin navigation systems, Google maps, credit cards and cell phones. One by one, I’ll collect the stories and connect all the pieces. Stories bring him back to life for me, if only for a few minutes here and there, and I need that.

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