It's funny how things that may seem horrifying or embarrassing when you are young are really funny in retrospect. As readers of this blog know, I love my dad and miss him constantly, because of the good things he was and in spite of the things he wasn't. Sadly, my dad in his younger days (when I was a kid) was a racist as were many white men of his generation. Even sadder yet, he actually worked at trying to teach me those values. Thank goodness that didn't take.
The recent passing of a friend's brother brought to mind the day when I thought I had killed my dad. At least you would have thought so if you had seen his face changing colors from red, to blue to purple and back to red, and watching him struggling for breath and control as he waited to get me alone to lecture me.
The day and the event leading up to his apoplectic rage were the most common and routine of any 6th grade girl. I was only walking home with a classmate and his brother. Probably walking home with two boys was enough to get me in trouble. Both boys were visibly taller than me and if you take into account their long hair wrapped with brightly colored yarn and very obvious Native American looks they were strikingly different. Needless to say my dad wasn't celebrating our ethnic diversity. Those guys were beautiful, not to mention friendly and kind. Maybe that's why I enjoyed our walks home from school. I really liked Roy Bison, my classmate, who made an effort to be nice to me and his brother Gideon, who would join us as we passed the high school on our walk home. I only went to school there part of that year but will never forget Roy and Gideon.
The good part of the story is that as my dad aged he changed, at least in the fact that he finally outgrew old prejudices about race and differences.
Thank goodness we are never to old to learn.
The picture above is Gideon Bison.