I don’t know my father’s parents’ names…As I am typing this, it is occurring to me how this sounds. I think this will make more sense later, once we delve into my childhood memories.
For now, I promised myself that I would focus on the question at hand, and try not to hyper-explain anything.
While growing up, I knew some of my father’s siblings, but as far as his parents were concerned… his mother raised all 5 of her children alone. I remember visiting her one time; my two closest siblings and I went to Hampton, VA to visit her for a few days. She was a heavy-set woman who didn’t talk much. she spent most of her time sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of her country style home, or sitting in the living room. There was no TV or air conditioning; the windows were always open (day and night). There was one bathroom (near the back door), and the living quarters were very cramped.
I remember feeling sorry for her because her facial expressions made me think that she was very angry and unhappy most of the time we were there. One time I tried to engage her in conversation, and she called one of my uncles to take me into another room. There were no neighbors, and the nearest store was about a 10-minute walk through a field. A “watermelon” truck came by every day with a man yelling “waaaatermelon man” repeatedly. My uncle bought watermelons from him every day we were there. This is all I can remember about his mother.
When I was younger, I remember being told that his father died in a motorcycle accident. Shortly before my father died in 1995, he informed me that his father had just died of an illness. I remember not knowing how to feel, but telling a friend that “my father’s father died.” That same friend asked, “wouldn’t that be your grandfather?” Although I felt funny saying father’s father (because I didn’t know him or his name), it never occurred to me to find out any history about him. No one talked about him in my family, so he remains a mystery to me to this day.