When my parents first got married, my half-sister was six. All the time she would ask him for stories about when he was her age. She wanted to know all about him. My dad though, ever practical, had no desire to tell my sister the true stories of his youth. These were tales filled with disobeying parents, sneaking out of the house, freaking out babysitters and just generally getting in trouble.
Eventually he came up with the tales that developed what I think may be his secret super power- story telling. These are detailed, dramatic stories full of perilous situations and child heroes. My favorite might be the ones where his mother is pregnant with him. She is in the car driving somewhere, lost and my father realizes her confusion. He peeks out of her bellybutton (which is apparently more like a little skylight) and tells her which way to go. She listens and they get where they are supposed to! This story is an adorable and quintessential little bit of Dad- he’s the hero but also, a bit of a know it all.
This Easter we were able to bring these stories into the lives of my nieces. My mother emailed Dad requesting he clarify the details of his Easter story and he did one better- he wrote out the whole thing! For years I have been requesting this and it was an incredible treat to have. It was made better only by my oldest niece reading the story of how “Granddaddy” saved Easter aloud to all of us.
I never thought of my dad as a writer until recently. These stories have been with us for so long there were just part of a part of his goofiness we cherished as children. But now that he writes us infamously long emails about his travels, I can see it. Everything he writes is full. It’s sensory, it’s visual, it’s emotional. This is the way he describes a taxi ride but also, how his travels have impacted him. It’s all with the same intensity. I’m especially glad my nieces can experience this, even if their Granddaddy is thousands of miles away.