Thursday, January 6, 2011


I wrote the dedication page for my novel this morning with a deep sense of loss mixed with lush joy because the two people to whom I am dedicating my novel to are not here the way I would like them to be. I know they are here in spirit and I know my novel's protagonist Grace would surely tell me Dorothy Jean and Willie James are not that far away; however, my hearts want them to be here in the flesh. I want to watch them flip the pages and get that hug when I do my first reading. Of course it is not to be. Real is real, my Ms. Grace would tell me.

This January is just hard..hard Mom will have been gone 10 years this month and Dad's birthday would have been this weekend, January 8. I am especially missing my father because I was truly his little girl.

Willie J. Simpson would have been 84 years old this year. He died when I was 21 and I still miss him everyday. He would have loved my being a writer and I think he would have been pleased with Act of Grace. I decided to write this note of appreciation after listening to a tape recorded during a Simpson family Christmas celebration on his mother's farm in Greenville, Alabama. The year was 1967 I was twelve .



First of all, thank you for buying me my first typewriter and being happy when I said I wanted to be a writer.

Thank you for telling mom that it really was fine for little black girls to love horses even if they lived in the middle of Detroit.

Thanks for teaching me how to mop floors and iron creases in my pants just like you did in the Navy.

Thank you for teaching me how to cook Salmon patties, fried green tomatoes, grits with cheese and how to appreciate Alaga syrup and Wonder bread.

Thank you for sharing your love of farming, gardening and mules. For being all up in my business when it came to boys. For insisting I learn a second language. For giving me a deep love of poetry, buying me my first book on mythology, for introducing me to James Baldwin, and for giving me one of my favorite albums: South America: Black Music in Praise of Oxalá and Other Gods.

Thank you for making me memorizes the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley just because you had to memorize it in college and because you thought that everyone should have a poem about courage in a pocket of their memory. I use to think that I would dedicate my first novel to Mom, but now I realize that I'm the writer I am because of you so I guess you get to go first.

Thank you, thank you for everything.

P. S You would have loved your grandchildren. They are smart and happy and Delphia is a married woman now. Her husband is a great guy, he reminds me a lot of you.
Till we meet again.



Tara Maya said...

Beautiful and a little heart-wrenching. Thank you.

arthur said...

nice, sounds like a wonderful man and a wonderful line, always nice when parents encourage the literary life, so many dont

Downith said...

For being all up in my business when it came to boys.

Love it.

And he sounds like he was a fine man.