My Father



Every memory of my childhood is painted by the brush of your unique existence. You have been there for every high and for every low. When I am hurting I go to you and find solace. When I am beaming and proud, and ever the child looking for validation and confirmation - you always provide. Where will I go when my heart is hurting? Who will I tell when I have some small success? My heart is completely broken.

Keith Davis a/k/a Arthur Kdav
January 27, 1944 - August 27, 2020

I think of the stories you told me about Creepy Mouse and Mr. Kunaforda's Toy Store...the theater cats that were in the alley. You never ran out of stories for me. I think about being with you freezing in the woods somewhere while chopping wood for the winter. I think about the time you made me go around to all the neighbors to apologize for selling them violets for 25 cents (that I had planted in cups without the roots). I think of how you made noises on the roof on Christmas Eve night so that I would truly believe in Santa. I think about the time I had to have a Nintendo system and you wrapped up a present for me with the Nintendo logo peaking through the light colored wrapping paper and inside was really a microscope. I think about you riding my sparkly mint colored bike down front street with the dog leading the way on the rope. I think about you eating ice cream every night before bed. I think about you helping clean off the lake for an ice skating rink. I think about sleeping in the Karmann Ghia when traveling, (we didn't have money to get a room somewhere). I think about driving back home to Wisconsin from Florida and how I brought back a hermit crab without telling you or mom and how the car stunk to high heavens for at least a year. I think about making thunderstorms on the piano in the old MP Opera House orchestra pit while you worked. I think about how you let me paint the floors in your studio and how it was so cool to have a dad that was an artist and listened to loud music. I think about how one year for Christmas the angel broke for the top of the tree and you stopped everything and helped me make a gold star. I think about the first boy girl party I had for my birthday and how you picked all the kids up in your white "bread" truck and left the back door open so all the guys could hang out. I think about how Morgan (my dog) would get loose and you would go out into the harbor with the big boats in a rubber raft and pull him in and bring him back home with the biggest grin on your face. I think about how you sat with me and helped me with math at the kitchen table. I think about you teaching me to drive on the old dump road. I think about you taking the prom photos every year. I think about how you bagged up all the gifts that a really crappy boyfriend bought me and delivered them back to him yourself. I think about how you saw me kissing a boy in the back yard and turned and pretended not to see. I think about how you caught me and a friend smoking (we didn't manage to flush the cigarette butts down the toilet) and you loudly blamed it on the dog so that I could hear. I think about how all my friends in college loved it when you visited. I think about how I loved talking to you about things I read or heard on NPR. I think about talking about the meaning of life with you...about love...humanity...purpose. I think about making you my first ever Thanksgiving meal that first year after your divorce with mom, we were both so sad. I baked the turkey with the plastic bag of innards inside. I think of time spent with you in the woods just listening to the quiet. I think of the time that you told me that it was important to have substance over having something that was just pretty to look at. I think about your impeccable ability to know if someone was a "straight-shooter". I think of what an amazing dancer you were and how you always danced with me. I think of how I was the only kid whose dad had a composting toilet. I think of your wild and crazy hair and your converse high tops. I think of how on every birthday you would call or write me a letter sharing exactly the details of the day of my birth...the weather, the time, the waiting. I think about you being there when Zoey was born. I think about your never ending support in my mothering skills. I think about how you let each of your daughters love you the best way they knew how and whatever that looked like - was just perfect. I think about your stubbornness in staying home when you were sick with Parkinson's and how it hurt me over and over again. It was honestly the only point of contention ever between us. I think about what a long and difficult journey this has been and yet how unprepared I was for this moment. I think about how you died on your own terms, in your own way, doing what you loved. I think about how you taught me what it is to love right up to the very end.

I think about missing you every single day for the rest of my life.

Note found in a pottery bowl on the ledge above my father's kitchen sink as I was cleaning out his home with my sisters.

Mother and Child (my mom and I) by Keith Davis

Jenny by Keith Davis

Play on Shadows by Keith Davis (Left panel is a shadow of my dad, his arm resting on his knee and hand holding a coffee cup. Middle panel is open space and third panel is a shadow of me with my hands around my knees.)

Nautilus by Keith Davis