My dad also wrote a book. What I remember is a chaotic heap of papers, pockmarked with cigarette burns that seemed to grow every time we moved. I never caught him at it.
The first time I saw this pile was when we moved to Rustenburg, frontier post of the Kalahari Desert and unpacked this one big old trunk that belonged to my dad’s parents. I was seven. My dad was back doing shift work on the mines, platinum this time. We’d just spent two years in Zimbabwe where he managed a sisal plantation (a species of aloe used to make rope and mats). We might’ve stayed longer if there hadn’t been an African uprising over wages when I almost died from eating bread the rebels had laced with strychnine. By then my dad’s stack of paper was as high as a small end table, ratty as hell and tied with string.
The thing is my dad had a lot to write about. He would’ve made a good David Livingstone, that intrepid Scotsman who became the first European to explore the central and southern parts of Africa, famous for discovering the Victoria Falls. By the time my dad married my mother, who at first refused his offer of marriage—he’d already been engaged three times—he’d traveled the length and breadth of South Africa at a time when it was mostly dirt roads and wild animals were still plentiful. He even tried to make it up to the Congo by himself in a banged up 1930’s Model A Ford. He didn’t make it. No roads to speak of.
I bring this up now because I’m doing a final on my memoir, Loveyoubye, and it just hit me that he’d written a book. How could I have forgotten that? I can’t ask him or my mother what it was about. They both on passed years ago. I’ll never know. It’s been quite the wild ride writing this memoir.