01 September, 2011

Early Influences

My PP, or paternal progenitor, was a fascinating man. I call him my PP because though biologically, he was my father, socially he was more like a cross between an uncle and a friend of the family. Close, thoroughly endorsed by my mother at at least one point in her life (and plenty after), and someone I could absolutely turn to if I ever needed to. And to whom I hardly ever turned.

Which absolutely makes him a tragic figure, in the romantic sense. But this is not to say that Tex Grove did not have any significant effect on me, even though he missed out on being my Dad. And it may be that him not being my dad was better for me, though there is certainly no way to tell.

I definitely don't mind, because my real dad always has been there for me, and I have never harbored any confusion on who he was, despite plenty of confusing and conflicting information on the topic. Which is approximately three other stories, at least. And I digress.

He died several years ago, and at his wake someone passed out a piece of ephemera which I will share, in part, with you all.

A Magic Cup
by Tex Grove

The cup of my love is ever full
And it is yours to share
The cup of my love is ever filled
By those who have shared it anon
The cup of my love it overflows                                          5
And sometimes splashes my knees
This bounty you make, who sit by my side
For those who wait in the court

Would your hand
Cover the brim
To drive the beggars away

Would you tip
From time to time
The excess to flow down a drain

Better you drink
Then pass the bowl
It sooner comes 'round again

The magic is lost
The spell will break
If I waste a drop of it.

Now, as poetry I take issue with line 8. And as philosphy, I take issue with the last stanza. Both of those could go, and I would love this poem WAY more than I do now. Which is actually not that much! But I don't usually like poetry, so please do not sue me. And I digress.

But speaking of going to court, I don't dislike that line 8 as much anymore now that I remember that part of Tex's tragic history as a father was losing custody of some of his children to his sister and brother in-law. Or maybe his mother. Long story that I know hardly any of.

Here are the highlights:

Second wife crazy and possibly suicidal.
Sent kids home to mom while sorting things out. Years go by.
Spent all his money on second wife's health care.
Surrendered second wife's care to state.
Divorced second wife, remarried. Engendered more children.
On roadtrip to final court date with new, pregnant wife in car, car breaks down in desert.
Lost custody to some of his children.
Father sick, dying.
Estranged firstborn son dies in Vietnam.

Technically, those last three items aren't even highlights of the story I was trying to tell, but they are facts, and they enhance the dramatic effect of the totally-not-charmed life my PP led.

I could literally write BOOKS about this man, this man that I hardly know. So much promise. So much heartbreak. And not just his.

Except for the small problem that because he was NOT my dad, I hardly knew him.

Does anybody know a good story about Tex Grove? Let me know.

Feel free to leave a comment, or send it to Rosebud@u.washington.edu if it's really juicy.

I know he won't mind.

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