B  Grandpa 1aI know readers of this blog have come to (reasonably) expect a tide of unrelenting bitterness and hate. It would be rational to brace for some vitriolic tirade about Not Owing Your Parents Anything or Bullshit Hallmark Holidays. It’s true that I believe both of those things, and on any other day, that might be a rational expectation.

I’m sorry to disappoint.

Father’s day has always been a strange proposition for me. My own dad took off when I was two, too young and too freaked out to handle the responsibility of a young wife and family. I don’t think that was ever his plan. I was adopted by my grandparents — Sylvia, my maternal grandmother, and Cecil, her second husband — and raised by them. My mom was a frequent recurring character in my childhood and upbringing, but I didn’t even meet my dad until I was 18, so Cecil was the only father I ever knew.

In one of those curious ways that life tends to booked itself, he had abandoned his first wife and four sons in Oswego, New York, in the 60s, and got waylaid by my grandmother on his road west to California. I don’t think he ever resolved the guilt he felt for that (people of that generation really weren’t equipped for that kind of introspection), but he did his best to make up for it in raising me.

Whatever his other faults might have been, he was a better father than I had any right to expect. He was never cruel or capricious or manipulative. He told me what he thought, taught me what was expected of me, and supported me in everything I ever wanted to do, even though he understood little of it. He never batted an eye when I wanted to act, to make movies, to move to L.A., to be utterly unlike any member of my family. He didn’t care that I was making a living working in porn. He was just proud of me.

He never pried into my personal life any more than I pried into his. We had a mutual respect that way. He treated me like a man, from the time I was old enough to remember, and I tried to show him the same consideration. He wasn’t a deep thinker, or a man with lofty aspirations (if he did have them, he never whined about not achieving them), but he had more simple wisdom and strength and common sense than any human being I have ever met.

This picture is from the last time he ever visited me in L.A. When he left, we both somehow knew we’d never meet again. Instead of just getting up at dawn to make the long drive home and calling me when he got there (his usual M.O.), he hung around, let me take him to breakfast, and we talked. We both cried when he hugged me to say goodbye, and a few months later, he died in his sleep with Buster, his perpetual companion, asleep by his side.

Yesterday, I was describing the old man to RHK, someone who has become very important to me in a very short period of time. (The initials stand for Red Harlot Koala, but that’s a story for another day). As I was talking about him, something struck me that I haven’t felt since I was with K; It saddened me that Cecil will never meet RHK. He would have loved her.

So, happy Father’s Day, you old fart. I still quote you often, think about you constantly, and keep you alive in my stories and memories. I miss ya.

P.S. As a bonus, you can see two of my first cats who came to Los Angeles with me in the photo; fat Max on the floor, an enormous orange guy who used to sit on my grandfather’s shoulder across the back of the couch, and Sylvester, my strange little girl who often looked at people exactly as she’s looking at him in the photo, as if she’d never seen a human before.

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