My brother and I were playing basketball the day Daddy died

Photo illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty

This essay is adapted from Penis Politics: A Remembrance of Women, Men, and Power.

My daddy came to see a lot of my basketball games in junior high. He was older than most parents at the games. He was 48 years old when my mother gave birth to me in 1958 at the age of 33. 14 months later she gave birth to my brother. She told me Daddy didn’t want kids until he had enough money to build our house, but he never told Momma he was ready to have kids until one night while he was making love, he didn’t move out.

When they first married, Momma and Daddy lived in a small yellow office trailer parked on the 20 acres of pine trees he owned in the small town where I grew up – Soso, Mississippi, population 408. They had a bunk bed in the office but no toilet. Mom would drive to Mr. Shott’s grocery store to buy number two in his bathroom. The forest behind the trailer was good enough for number one. I don’t know where daddy did his business. They both washed in a makeshift shower Daddy had put together in front of the trailer. After Dad finished his construction sites, he would gather up excess concrete and other materials and store them in his warehouse at the bottom of a hill not far from the trailer.

Read more at The Daily Beast. My brother and I were playing basketball the day Daddy died


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