Unanswerable questions to my dad

flights of fancy

Les Green.tree sweaterI want to ask my dad, Les Green, some things. Of course, they are unanswerable questions since he died 23 years ago today.

I want to know if he knew the name of his biological father, Raymond Cone? What, if anything, did he know about him? And how was it growing up without a father? He WAS living in the abode of his grandfather, Samuel Walker.

What was his relationship with McKinley Green, the person I knew pretty early on – from my mother, not my father – was not my biological grandfather? Mac, or Pop, married Agatha Walker in 1931, but they were estranged by 1936. Yet Mac adopted Dad in 1944, three weeks before Les turned 18.

Where did my father serve in the military at the end of World War II? I know he was in the European Theater of Operations, but I don’t know specifically where. Does his picture appear in the October 1946 issue of Ebony magazine, and if so, which pic? Is there any truth to those apocryphal tales of living in Belgium for a time?

Why was he seemingly at arm’s length from the Walker family, most of whom lived in Binghamton blocks from our house? I saw my mother’s cousins and aunt Charlotte, who lived in Queens, NYC more often than most of his local cousins, aunts, and uncles. Specifically, why did he have a poorly veiled disdain for Aunt Jessie, his mother’s sister?

Could we have asked?

There was a point in the few years before his death that my sister Leslie thought to ask him some of these questions, though other parts we learned well after he died.

I was never comfortable telling him that his wife and, occasionally, his mother-in-law were telling his children stories about him that he himself never managed to share with us.

Thus, the frustration. Maybe he had some papers we haven’t encountered in nearly a half-century. I’m not holding my breath.

I believe that our work on genealogy has partially been the thing that has rekindled these musings. Did he know what his grandfather Walker did for a living? Did he know Samuel Walker’s parents’ names? Might they have been enslaved people?

What was his relationship with his grandmother Walker, Mary Eugenia, who died in 1944, long before I was born?

I suppose the musing is an idle exercise. But on the 23rd anniversary of Les Green’s death, I’m allowing myself a bit of permission to indulge in these flights of fancy.

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