I went back to LA to visit some friends and to try to get away from work for a few days. I saw my friends, but wasn’t able to stay away from work much unfortunately. The day I returned, I received a call from my mom telling me that my father had died.

Most everyone who knows me well, or even not-so-well have not heard me speak much of my father. For a good majority of my life I had grown up in either a single parent household, or with my mother and ex-stepfather. I haven’t seen or heard from my birth father in almost 2 decades. I knew very little about him. It’s sad that I learned quite a bit about him just from reading his obituary – which I couldn’t even find initially because all these years I didn’t know how to spell his name correctly…

At first I wasn’t even sure if I should go to the funeral or not. I was tired, seriously stressed and jetlagged so it was hard to fully comprehend it. Initially I thought, should I even go to the funeral of a man that I didn’t know? Would I even be welcome after all these years? But after a short time I decided that I wanted to go. It would be good for me. Perhaps I could even learn a little more about him. And I knew that if I didn’t go, it would be something that I would regret.

My father was not a perfect man. As far as I know, he was not a model citizen by any standards. But I learned that he was not entirely a bad man. He was trying to clean himself up so that he could take care of his mother. He loved to write poetry – and was apparently very good at it. He was always reading and was intrigued by all kinds of strangeness. He seemed to like lots of little trinkets – you’d be amazed at all of the little statues of dragons, angels – even little ducks – that he had collected.

I met my grandmother – who I quickly learned is a great and amusing woman. She’s a hysterical old lady with plenty of wit and spunkiness still in her. It’s a shame that I only just met her. Apparently my father was taking care of her because she’s dying…

He bought a bus – literally a school bus – that had been all decked out by some racing fans that would follow the Nascar races all over the country with it. There’s miniblinds in the windows, with little checker curtains, and Nascar stickers everywhere. There’s a little eating area that looks like a diner, a couch, a kitchen area, some bunkbeds, and a little bathroom area. So it’s pretty much a school bus made into a Winnebago.

Just a week ago he was out painting up the tires (coloring in the Goodyear letters and such) and starting to clean up the inside of the bus. He told everyone that he was getting ready for his trip. The plan was to take care of his mother, and when she passed, he would take the bus around the country. That sounds like something that I would probably do.

I met a lot of members of his side of the family. Some of them were… interesting. Some of them, like grandma Sophie, were very cool. I even met my half-sister. She’s a gorgeous girl. Just graduated high school and engaged to her boyfriend. I wish for the best for them.

I was sent home with a list of names, numbers, and addresses. It’s amazing how this group of people could get so attached to a stranger. They were adamant that I keep in touch. My only fear is that I’ll sink into my own little world and lose track of time, and I won’t see them more than once every few years like I do with my mother’s side of the family.

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