Once Upon A Piece of Trash

He Introduced Himself Without an Introduction

In that moment.  Close to eight and a half years ago, my Patrick met my daddy.

My dad’s second funeral was held in Greenwood, Ms.  The first one was in Memphis, Tn which I have spoken about before.  Unsure if I ever mentioned the Koreans that flew in for the TN gathering.  They had admired my dad and wanted to pay their respects to him.  The three men had brought a female translator.  Prior to the service, she walked up to me and gave me a bundle of cards from their business while the three shorter men with dark suits followed suit.  “These men are so very sorry for your loss and would like for you to have these cards.” I said thank you. The men bowed.  So, I bowed.  So, they bowed.  And stared at me, smiling.  So, I bowed and said thank you.  And they bowed and said something in their native tongue.  I remember just wanting to curtsy at this point, partly convinced we were playing some kind of mirror game but thankfully my gratitude of them being there took over from my consistent improv skills.  I took the cards to my heart and said thank you.  They turned away and walked inside the church.

A few weeks after his death and while I was shoveling snow in my parents back driveway, Brian a neighbor walked over.  I had met him before only once.  He and his wife graciously allowed Delilah and Boo Radley (my two dogs) to stay at their house during the somber however lively gathering at my parent’s place after the service.  Brian began to help me shovel.  He began with small talk but then cleared his throat, “I never knew anything about Liston, I mean, your dad.  He was so friendly and always moving around so fast and getting things done.  Most of the time,  I would see him and he would be cleaning up litter.  He’d be wearing some old jeans with, you know, those iron on patches on the knees.  I didn’t realize those were still made.  He would be caring a bag and would be cleaning up other people’s messes.  I came here to tell you this because, I keep reading things about him in the newspaper and the internet.  Your dad was an executive.  He never mentioned this.  I never knew this.  I just knew him as the neighbor who cleaned up our streets.”

I had written about how Patrick and I had driven down to Memphis to retrieve old childhood memories around our first year of dating.  My mom was cleaning things out because she wanted to sell the house in which my father gasped for his last human moment.  It was the first time Patrick had seen or known where my parent’s owned their modern style brownstone in downtown memphis.

When we first started dating in 2012, just one month later in January he held me as I cried for my dad on the anniversary of his death.  That night, Patrick went home and started to google.  He wanted to meet the man that helped make me.

It was around three months after we had recovered my big wheel and countless sticker albums and a few prayer cards my mom shoved in bags for good measure that he told me.  We were in my old apartment in Nashville looking out the 12 foot bay windows with the night’s dark sky outlining the downtown’s corporate buildings.  Patrick had received his masters in Memphis and lived there for two years.  He was driving on Front Street back in 2006.  He saw a smaller man in a navy blue zip up sweatshirt, old jeans, holding a bag while picking up trash.  He had always remembered it because it had struck him.  Memphis had been a city always down on itself.  People lived in the suburbs because they didn’t want to revive anything.  But here was a small white man just doing the simple act of cleaning up litter.

It all came together when Patrick and I drove to Memphis to get a mini u-haul of childhood wares.  When we drove under bridges where empty cans and wrinkled wrappers and papers gather in the shadows did he begin to remember the articles he read on line.  How I had told him that after the Greenwood funeral that the guests were picking up trash before heading over to the assembly hall for coffee.

Patrick wanted to make absolutely sure that he was recalling a correct memory, knowing, that it would mean the world to me.

And it does.  Patrick got to meet my dad in his true fashion.  I still have a pair of his jeans in a box in the closet.  Maybe its the pair that he wore while my Patrick got to see an example of humility.  Like the neighbor, Brian, my dad would have rather preferred Patrick not knowing who he was behind the desk.  And knowing, Patrick, he would of asked my dad if he could help.

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5 Comments

  1. Robyn Clark

     /  April 13, 2015

    ahhh….I love this! You never know where your paths will cross. <3 Your dad truly was such a humble sweet person. It sounds like Patrick is the same kind of person. Just so glad you had the courage to take that first step! :)

  2. jeanne

     /  April 13, 2015

    A warm and touching story…….you are an amazing writer. Love you!!!

  3. Somehow, I believe Liston and Patrick would’ve chosen a beautiful shade of red and painted side by side…

  4. admin

     /  May 4, 2015

    Oh thank you, love

  5. admin

     /  May 4, 2015

    Jeanne, thank you for taking the time to read this…it had been in my heart for some time and I had to put in down in words

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