I was born a long time ago, eons actually, or so it seems. My upbringing was unusual, odd at best, and I longed for the conventional lifestyle that all my friends enjoyed. Unlike many other writers, I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. All I knew was that I wanted something different, far different, polar opposite different from the murky life I’d lived until the day I turned 18 and got ready to shove off for college.
I loved my parents… dearly. They both were young, smart and full of freshness when they married, poised to capture the American dream. Two people who were worthy of admiration for their unwavering determination. But as one life entwined itself around the other and the children came, bills mounted, jobs became harder to find, they were consumed by an obstacle that was simply insurmountable, and we eventually imploded, all four of us, Mom, Daddy, my brother and I, failing to land firmly on our feet. After Daddy died when I was ten years old, we moved to a small town in northern Minnesota where I was lucky to know so many gentle and caring people who overlooked the untidiness of my wilting family and showed me the true meaning of “community”.
When I was in the midst of writing my first book, Ghellow Road, so many memories of my dad came flooding back, not the typical things you might guess, like way he spoke or the hobbies he enjoyed, not anything like that. I thought about what he had given me before he left unexpectedly, an ability to believe in myself, the worthiest of tools critical for survival. There were many storms I had to outrun after Daddy died. Far too many. And I would have succumbed to that swirling mess if it weren’t for the building blocks of fortitude he provided. I’m certainly no superstar, no Oprah, no Maya Angelou, no J.K. Rowling, but I did go on to graduate from college, become a productive member of society and write two books. What does the future hold for me? Who knows. But I do know this… I owe much of my will to strive for something, to make my life mean something to my father. And if I may be so bold as to speak to any parent out there, anyone who will listen to me, I’d like to tell you this: May you live to see your beautiful baby grow and prosper. But what if you don’t. What if? No one truly knows what the grand mystic has inscribed inside your palm. I don’t mean to suggest that you should live your life in fear, far from it, all you can do is hang on and enjoy the ride. But just know that every time you read a book to your child, teach them how to play tennis, take them to the movies, to the museum, every time you spend quality moments with them in whatever way suits you best, they know they mean something to at least one person in this world, they know they matter. That is what fortifies a child. That is what will help sustain them should you ever have to part.
T.H. Waters, author of Ghellow Road-a literary diary of a young girl’s journey