Thinking about my dad

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My dad, George Nocho Golden.

I thought I was going to be in the mood to write two book reviews last week but I ended up focusing on my own writing. I’ve been in a bit of a weird mood lately, and I know it’s because we are closing in on the first anniversary of my father’s death.

Because of this, I won’t be posting anything this weekend. My hubby and I are taking a weekend trip so I can have a change of scenery. We’re going to Copenhagen on Friday so that I can catch up with some old friends and do a little research to strengthen Maybe Baby, which you may remember is partially set there.

So soon it’s a year since my dad left our lives. I miss him and find myself thinking about him quite often. We had a very complicated relationship. My mother used to say the reason my dad and I had problems seeing eye to eye was that we were too similar. We both had strong opinions and didn’t back down very easily. We both were moody. We both were extroverted introverts. We had a huge falling out when I was in college, which led to him refusing to pay for my tuition. My mom and I had to struggle to make sure it was paid every semester and I will never forget the sacrifices she made so that I could finish my bachelor’s degree. It took a long time for the father-daughter relationship to recover after that. But by the time my dad died, we’d found a way back to one another, even if it was bittersweet since he couldn’t remember who I was towards the end.

Whenever I read the short stories and novels I’ve written, I find there’s always at least one character based on my dad. So far, Maybe Baby doesn’t have a George Golden-based character. There’s no grumpy former Marine hiding between the lines. Which is strange. There’s no Babara Golden-like character either. I think I need to rectify that. She should be there in some way. Maybe I need to make some space for him too.

For my father…

My dad, George Golden, back in the day...

Just wanted to let you know that I won’t be posting for a week or two due to a family emergency. My father died this week and I am heading to Philadelphia on Tuesday morning to be with my family for his funeral.

My dad was a former Marine who served two tours in Vietnam. He could be the most infuriating man in the world and yet he was generous to a fault. Before he became ill, he was a very active man who didn’t like sitting still very long but loved to sleep in at the weekends. He used to say it was better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission…but he hated it when I practiced what he preached. When I told him I wanted to be a writer, he said I should be a lawyer or a doctor. But when I was accepted into VCU’s MFA program he was pleased as punch.

We didn’t always have the best relationship but maybe it was because I was (and still am) just as stubborn and opinionated as he was. In the last years of his life my dad was stricken with premature dementia. He’d begun to forget who we were, he’d lost his ability to speak due to a stroke, he’d lost a leg to diabetes. When I was with him, I could sometimes feel the anger in him. He didn’t like losing control of his life. But every now and then he would smile and everything seemed okay again.

One of my favorite memories of my dad is when he would sing his favorite songs on a Sunday night while listening to the Golden Oldies on the radio. He and my mom would dance around the living room and it was like getting a glimpse of when they first fell in love.

So the next week or so will be devoted to being with my family in Philadelphia and putting my dad to rest. And this post is dedicated to my father’s memory.

GEORGE NOCHO GOLDEN

26 AUGUST 1939 – 15 FEBRUARY 2012