Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers and Crime

by Joelle Charbonneau

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there in Do Some Damage land. Because it is Father’s Day, I started thinking about what great father characters exist in crime fiction. I think my favorite is Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird…most people probably consider this LITERATURE now instead of crime fiction, but look at the themes in the book and you’ll see the crime part. Atticus was a solid man and a good dad. His desire to see his children unscathed by events was admirable and heroic – not always the stuff great crime stories are made of, but totally the stuff great dads are.

This is the second Father’s Day since my dad passed away from cancer. (Yes, I just segued into the sappy part of my post. I’m a chick so I’m allowed to make you get out your hankies.) I won’t say that Dad and I always had a fabulous relationship. He was an alcoholic for much of my youth and young adulthood. Alcohol makes for some interesting story conflicts, but not great parent/child communication. He was also a big smoker. Between the drinking and the smoking, my father would have made a fabulous character in one of my fellow bloggers books.

My dad kicked the alcohol when I was in my mid-twenties and cigarette smoking the next year. Cold turkey on both. Amazing! Can you tell he had a stubborn streak? If you think you know stubborn think again. My dad took it to a whole new level. He had things he wanted to get done and nothing, no matter how important, was going to get in the way. Want an example?

While he was battling cancer, Dad had an episode in which he started to bleed and needed to be taken to the hospital. The paramedics loaded him into the ambulance and were ready to go. Only my father wouldn’t let them. The bleeding made it hard to talk, so he pointed to my mother and then down to the edge of the driveway. My mother knew exactly what he wanted and told him no. They were going to the hospital – now. My dad wouldn’t agree. He pointed again. Finally the paramedic asked what Dad wanted. Turns out it was garbage day. The garbage had been collected and Dad was prepared to bleed until the cans had been brought up to their proper position next to house. Baffled, the medic dutifully fulfilled my father’s wish so he could get my father the treatment he needed. Point scored for Dad.

Yep. Stubborn. And he passed it along to me. Okay, I’m not stubborn about my garbage cans, but I did learn an important lesson from my father that has helped me in my publishing adventure. Never take NO for an answer. Keep knocking on doors until someone says yes. Even when it looks like no one will, keep knocking. When you least expect it, someone will finally open the door and let you walk in. It happened to me and it was because of Dad’s example that I kept trying. Thanks Dad. Happy Father’s Day. I hope I do you proud.

***picture is from 8th grade graduation - gotta love the '80s***


Scott D. Parker said...

Dang. That's a powerful story. Thanks for sharing. I like his (and your) outlook on life.

pattinase (abbott) said...

This was a really nice post. Thanks.

SueH said...

Joelle - I think you know your father's proud of you!

Father's Day without Dad around is hard - I know from experience.

This was a wonderful post - I wish you well!

Bryon Quertermous said...

My favorite father in crime fiction is Jim Rockford's dad.

My dad was always a big encourager in my writing and he even went on to write his own book because he thought what I did was so cool. Spenser already has pretty good crime pedigree but I hope he follows in my path. Holly I hope goes into something more stable and lucrative so she can support me in old age

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Joelle, what a nice tribute to your dad, and the segue way from Atticus Finch. Despite his additions, I hope you have some fabulous memories. Thanks

Jay Stringer said...

great post, very heartfelt.

And an interesting topic. Crime fiction is filled with father figures, but rarely good ones.

Off the top of my head, i can think of Jack Taylors father in Ken Bruen's books. Intelligent, encouraged his son to read.But then he also seems to have been something of a moral maybe not him. Anyone else?

Steve Weddle said...

Hmm. I can't think of a recent book I've read with a father.

Nice post.

Joanne Young Elliott said...

Fathers are great for teaching by example. Many aren't very least mine wasn't. But I'm glad he communicated via doing because he died when I was 14...before I even got to really know him. He would come home after his day job and spend time working on his creative pursuits. He taught me to never let life get in the way of creativity or what rejuvinates us. I'm thankful for that example and glad I'm finally learning to do that.

Thanks for sharing your and your dad's story.