My granddaddy on my father’s side had klan ties. He wasn’t blood related, my dad never knew his real father, and somehow that makes me feel better, as if blood has anything to do with the way we’re blinded by hate and lies and all the separating we do when we make people less than or other.
I’ve come to know that blood is the only thing that sets us free but that’s another story.
Needless to say, I never really knew him. My dad was born into the dirty south in the 1950s. He was threadbare poor, the kind of hard cold empty and wrong sides of the tracks life that had him in and out of juvenile detention and finally making his way on his own by the age of 11, living like a feral child to escape the sadness and abuse that lived in every corner of that desperate life.
One of his earliest memories was his granddaddy leveling a shotgun over his shoulder on the rickety porch and pulling the trigger. A black man, I never knew his name but then neither did my dad, had gotten drunk and made a lunging grab for my great-aunt and so my great granddaddy took care of him. That was the story. Nothing much came of it. He went to jail for a bit, but my dad remembers his mama bringing smokes and playing cards and the time wasn’t really so hard at all. He didn’t get sent away. But you wouldn’t back then, not there.
We have roots but they’ve been dug up and replanted when my dad found Christ, or maybe it’s the other way around, probably more like Christ found my dad, but either way, my mom, a half Korean/half Japanese woman wouldn’t have been an ideal choice and us kids would have been half-breeds.
My dad went back years later, packed us kids and my mom and road-tripped it across the country and someone called us that. Mongrels. His precious babies. Continue Reading…