My father was single, and he owned a shoe repair and leather crafting business when I was a girl. Besides the leather pants, vests and belts that filled the store, he sold water pipes, rolling papers and roach clips. As a five year old, I was surrounded by psychedelic posters, tie-dyed T-shirts and peace signs. And in the workshop, my father tacked Playboy calendars and posters of nude women on the walls.
When my father turned 27, his very young girlfriend threw him a surprise party at our apartment. There were streamers, balloons and a cake made of breasts. I am grateful that photos exist from this party. I was too young to be invited, of course, and had been sent to bed. But when I look at the photos from the party, I see my father–his Tony Orlando hair, his denim work shirt, the thin beauty on his arm–personified.
I am happy my father was so young, 22, when I was born. Often he was more like an older brother than a father. He was patient and funny, and he wasn’t ashamed of anything. I asked tons of questions, which he always answered. When I asked questions about sex, he told me the truth–often with street slang. Anyone who wonders where I get my “to the point” method of communication can stop wondering. I am both grateful for this gift and have spent a lifetime trying to improve myself.
I miss my father. He was a great parent, mentor and friend.