My father wasn't always nice, but I was always his.I was his favorite, they say.According to him, nothing could be done and no plans could be made without making sure that Lawrence Jr. was included. My father loved me. And I loved him.I just didn't realize how much until I saw him lying in that hospital bed.These are the things that I'll always remember about my father: He wore these gigantic cowboy hats. He maintained a thick-but-groomed moustache for most of my life. He drove with our things in a moving truck from Chicago to California, after my mother, brother and I flew. He used to drink E&J brandy. He'd smoke apple tobacco from a wooden pipe. He talked like he ate nails for dinner, but he loved cookies and candy and the occasional "Tom & Jerry" cartoon. He liked to watch football, no matter the teams playing. He loved to cook, and when he couldn't any longer, he read cookbooks. (I got him a subscription to a food and recipe magazine as a Christmas gift once.) When he was kid, his brothers and sisters called him, "Minnow" because he was so small. He once did a goofy dance to The Champs' "Tequila" to make my brother and I laugh. He didn't know how to take care of us alone. (One year, my mother left to Chicago. We ate Little Caesar's pizza for two weeks straight, and he took us to Toys "R" Us to pick out our own Christmas gifts.) He liked to paint, and he was pretty good at it. (He painted a giant replica of the record cover artwork to "Disney's Merry Christmas Carols" for my brother and I. My mom still has it in her closet.) He couldn't speak, but he reached his hand out to me, when he saw me outside of his hospital door. And he didn't take his eyes off of me until I was at his bedside.He didn't understand me, my father. The things that I was into, music and theatre. He didn't understand my attraction to men. But he loved me all the same. We were never estranged. He never once disowned me. I was a weirdo, but I was his weirdo.I got my voice from him. He was the singer. He was pretty good too. He could pull off a vibratto-y falsetto I can't even dare. His voice, and his eyes. My eyes are slanted like my mother's, but the amber color was from him.There, in that hospital room, I did all of the things I didn't do enough when he could stand. I kissed his head, and I held his hand. I told him I loved him over and over again. I called him, "Daddy" like I used to. Later, when he slept, I sang "Amazing Grace" to him. He'd told me once that he wanted me to sing it for him. I told his sleeping face not to leave any ghosts. "When Uncle Eugene comes for you, you go with him, you hear me?" I said.It was my words that were spoken right before he took his last breath. My brother and I had just rejoined my mother in his room. We'd been to the hospital cafeteria to get coffee. He was unconscious, and my mother sat by the bed, with his head in her hands. I leaned down to his ear and told him that my brother and I were there. He took one breath right after that, and he didn't take another one. My Daddy was gone.Lawrence Falton Carr, Sr., thank you for giving me life. Thank you for showing me how to be strong. Thank you for my voice.I love you. Always.Goodbye, Daddy.Be nice up there, now.
read more: I Told His Sleeping Face Not To Leave Any Ghosts