My own father, Keith V. Black, died a little over two years ago. I miss him sorely, but he left a lifetime of memories that will keep him forever alive in my heart and in the hearts of those who loved him. My dad was a complex person with several sides to his personality. He was always young at heart—in many ways, he was a teenager well into his seventies. He was an outdoorsman, an enthusiastic participant in the car culture of 1950s Van Nuys, an aspiring photographer, a businessman, an enthusiastic early adopter of technology (he computerized his business in 1978), a passionate fan of music of all genres, an artist, an avid learner, a solitary recluse, and an outgoing man who made friends wherever he went.
He was also a father who was terribly proud of his kids. We may not have always known just how proud he was of us, but as I’m going though his papers I’m learning just how much he defined himself as being the proud father of two children he loved more than we knew.
Here are a few shots that capture my dad doing what he loved more than almost anything else—being a dad.
Easter Day, 1968: Keith and Polly with their 23-month-old son (me), getting ready to celebrate their son’s second Easter. This was taken at our apartment on Vesper Avenue, in Van Nuys, California.
April 1970: Keith showing Jill and I how to camp. Our camping road trips are one of my most cherished childhood memories.
June 1971: Keith showing us how to dig for clams at Pismo Beach, California. He may have gotten a little close to a couple of waves before this shot.
June 1971: Jill and Keith sharing a tender moment. I think this was taken at our Vesper Avenue apartment.
August 1971: Jill and her dad in the backyard of their new home on Jovan Street, in Reseda, California.
December 1971: Our happy family, posing for the grandparents on the front yard of our Jovan Street house.
April 1972: A proud dad with his two happy kids at their Jovan Street house. We were always a bit slow in taking down the Christmas lights.
July 1972: One of our many summer road trips. I’m not sure if this is eastern California near Bodie or northern California near Eureka, but I suspect the latter.
November 1976: Father and son in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, probably the Olympic peninsula or British Columbia.
Developed in July, 1977, but probably from Father’s Day, 1977: Jill and her dad cuddling on the piano bench at our Jovan Street house.
Developed in July, 1977, but probably from Father’s Day, 1977: Michael takes his turn sitting with his dad.
Developed in August 1980, but probably from Christmas, 1979: One of our last ‘normal’ Christmases, before our family started to fall apart.
November 1985: A few years after you left our family to find out who you were and who you wanted to become. Much later, you admitted that was one of the biggest mistakes of your life, and that you wished you had never left. Me too, dad. But because you did leave, and because we had to forge a new type of relationship, I got to discover a whole new you that I would possibly have never otherwise know. I love you, dad. I forgive you. I miss you.
Dad, not a day passes that I don’t think of you. I miss you terribly. I wish you had a chance to meet and get to know your granddaughter. I think you would have found a lot of yourself in her. I know she would have loved knowing you.