On the fourth day of Ebony my true love gave to me…
My paternal grandfather’s name is Kannon Nathaniel Nash Sr. We called him Daddy Nate. I don’t have many memories of him, but the memories I do have are extremely vivid.
My first clear memory of Daddy Nate is a vision of him dressed as Santa Clause.
It was Christmas Day. There was a knock at the door and, my mother, who was busy tending to my twin sisters, sent me downstairs to answer it.
I was three.
Let me tell you something. I opened that door, saw a man in a red suit with a white beard and froze. I probably had my finger in my mouth as I stared at him.
“Whatchoo want for Christmas, little girl?” He asked in a deep voice.
If the sight of him made me freeze, the sound of his voice gave me a sudden burst of adrenaline because I turned around and ran back up those stairs as if my life depended on it.
I was terrified.
I could hear Santa Clause laughing downstairs.
“Who was at the door?” My mama asked me.
“Some man asking me what I want for Christmas!”
I can laugh at that description now. Thinking back, this may have been my very first experience with Santa Clause and I was traumatized. At the time I couldn’t appreciate the moment for what it was. I didn’t recognize Daddy Nate in that get up and I hadn’t even noticed my grandmother standing next to him.
I don’t think they were ever able to convince me that my Daddy Nate was the man in the suit. The twins and I were all crying in that year’s Christmas picture. In our defense, Most of my cousins in our age group took the same crying picture with Santa Clause that year.
Daddy Nate died when I was four years old.
For a very long time, I thought he lived at Jack’s Memory Chapel, the last place I saw him…sleeping. We didn’t live far from that funeral home and every time we drove past it I would say, “That’s where Daddy Nate lives,” or “Can I go see Daddy Nate?”
As I write this I have tears in my eyes because it must have crushed my Daddy’s soul to hear me say those words on a regular basis. I had no real concept of the finality of death. I hadn’t gone to the funeral. I hadn’t seen the casket lowered into the ground. I was four years old. I only remembered my Daddy Nate asleep at Jack’s memory Chapel.
I don’t drive near that funeral home very often, but when I do, I can still hear a tiny voice in my head saying, “That’s where Daddy Nate lives.” I guess the child in me still wants to believe it.
I named my first child, a beautiful baby girl, Kannon. The first time my father’s mother, Mama Ruth, held my daughter, she looked at me and said, “Your Daddy Nate would be so proud of this baby.”
In my heart, I know it’s true.