Clarence

Clarence came around to see me quite often for a time. He was not someone you would notice much, didn’t care to be I guess. He dressed country, like his folks before him, white tee shirt, tan pants, black shoes. He had been a tall man in his prime but age took its toll. Cartilage and bone went to the places they go and he was shorter now. Gave up the old crow and seven and hunting with his dawgs, hell “there just ain’t no more huntin around here anyway.” Long gone were the days he would take the long climb up the narrow ladder to the enclosed cabin were he built tall things. Clarence lived in his memories I thought, but was always interested in what was happening in my life. Always had a lively smiling question in our visits.  I thought he was just lonely or bored and I suffered his visits with an enforced tolerance while I did shit slowy and we talked.  I didn’t understand the deal, finally I do. Clarence knew shit and was just waiting for me to ask the right question. I never did. Clarence knew about a kid, specifically one of mine, and about her mother.

Now that all the old folks are gone I have to wonder why they kept paper that told some of the story, why not just burn that one pager that clouds the parentage of my ex. If the paper was to be kept, the story should have been told; cause we found the paper and now there is no one to ask. Clarence knew it all, he was more than just a casual observer, there is more to it than just the one deal, his brother was married to the sister of the………well let’s just say, he knew it all.

I never really understood why he and Ruby took us out to eat at a very special place the night before my daughter was born. They were 30 years older than us, a generational difference for sure. They had none of their own so maybe that was part of it, and we always really liked them so it was fun.

Ruby would’t let him tell the story see, god knows southern women can keep secrets like the fate of the free world depends on it.  Thing is, now that all the players are gone (except one who “can’t remember”) I want to know why it was even a secret. Now there is no one left to ask.

Clarence knew shit. He knew why the faces in the pictures didn’t look all the same. And why there was a silent wall between Father and Daughter that I could never quite put my finger on.

So he came around, waiting for the light bulb to go on and for me to ask the right questions and I never did.

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4 Responses

  1. Quite a mysterious story. It immediately brings to mind that old song that I think was called The Tale of Billy Joe, where somebody throws something (what?) off the Tallahatchee bridge. Will you reveal more of the mystery later?
    What does come through is your puzzlement and regret. Well done, pt.

  2. You may recall Miss Melanie in GWTW. Well that was my former Mother In Law. The living persona of all that is good in a woman. Well it turns out for a while she was much more like Scarlett, much much more. There was never any hint of a previous marriage throughout decades of family relations. But the divorce decree was dated 2 months before my ex (mother of my children) was born. The second marriage followed shortly, the one that lasted till death. But we are not at all certain of whom the father was, and little is known of the first husband. We do know that “the grass at the place where he once lived is high enough to assume that he is no longer with us.” And there is no answer at the door and no phone registration. But his second wife’s sister married Clarence’s brother. So for 40+ years this secret was kept totally silent by a super large close family.

    For a while I was big into genealogy (someday I will post the really incredible things I discovered about the father I never met). For now I will just lament the lack of biological certainty of part of my daughter’s genetics.

    She could not be a better person than she is in any event. But my point is that having taken the previous journey through the discovery and tracing of 3 centuries (1690 to present) of unknown paternal relatives, between 1999-2004 I believed that I was surely done with surprises.

    I could not have been more wrong. There were 2 bombs left……….so far:) 1 in 2006 and one in 2008 My daughter says “if you have any skeletons in the closet tell me now please!”

  3. I think that sometimes we already know the answers to our lingering questions and the reason we don’t ask is because we don’t those assumptions validated. Anyway I love talking to old people. Not for any secrets that they may hold but because everything I know comes from them. I am glad that you are posting on wordpress now. Out of principle I don’t do TDO anymore.

  4. OK, if we’re ‘fessing up here…..

    My biological dad divorced my mom when I was very very young. I have no memory of my father when he lived with us.

    Not sure of the reason for divorce but I think there was a mix. They were both young; it was war; she was Spanish Catholic and he was NY Jewish. His family was not supportive of him marrying a Catholic “furriner.”

    For whatever reason, my mom didn’t want any contact between my father and I. That happened only after I came to the U.S. when I was 18. He was in Miami and I was in Tampa Bay area. I’d stay with him during some holidays but not summers. He had remarried and had two sons. They were not aware of me either. The oldest of the two is 12 years younger than me. His second wife is Jewish.

    I never was interested in my father as a child. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. We became “friendly” but of course there was never a “father-son” relationship since he did not raise me. I never asked for “fatherly advice” and he sensed that I wasn’t interested so he rarely volunteered any.

    Of the three sons, I am his spitting image. His second wife is very tall and so their two sons are tall. I’m his height. When their long time friends met me, they were taken aback at how I look like him. Except my eyes are Asian.

    And, we had (he passed away a few years back) some similar habits even though I could not have picked those up from him. We both looked for a deal; stocked up on sales, etc. His second wife would often laugh when I’d relate something I did, here or in Manila and say “That’s just like your father.”

    And Nick, yes I have noticed that you’ve been staying away from TDO. My presence has diminished too. Although I do “local” posts and some “deals” just because I like to share deals.

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