Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the NolaChic blog. It has been reprinted with permission.
Today is Father’s Day, and like some of you, my father is not here on earth, and I miss him dearly. My life is taking me to a place where I know my Daddy would have been to guide, support, and protect me.
My Daddy, George Albert Price, was a well known New Orleanian Businessman, outgoing, fun loving, wonderful man. Many people loved him.
He owned the first black business on Canal St, a block from Krauss and blocks away from the former Iberville Projects. My Daddy named his first business, at 1405 Canal St after my favorite snack, “Raisin’s.” I was the only child in my family who loved raisins, Raisin Bran Cereal and would often eat the raisins out of the box when I didn’t want to eat the cereal part.
He owned two salons Raisin’s as stated above on Canal St. He sold it to Jeanne’s which was the new name of the salon and also Element’s of Style on Franklin.
I’m pretty sure one of you had your hair done by him or even knew him from his work in the community and church. Back in the late 70s in the Desire Project, he assisted people with jobs, and my Mama was one of those people.
As a little girl, I remember playing around on the salon’s wooden stage at Raisin’s, spinning around in the chair as he pumped it to its highest state. I can still smell the hot irons, feel the heat from the burning hot hair dryers, and hear the phone constantly ringing.
He would make sure that everyone knew we were “George Price’s daughters.”I remember being a teen catching the bus, and the bus driver asked: “Are you by chance George Price daughter?” I never met this bus driver from what I remembered. I was taken aback. He mentioned he saw me out with my father several times when I was younger. Stating I looked just like George Price then and now. Lol.
My Daddy was the Ultimate entrepreneur and Businessman. He was dedicated to his craft and had a passion for teaching. He worked with Bonner Brothers in Atlanta as well.
My Mama declined on my Daddy’s marriage proposal a few years after the birth of my little sister, and they shared parental custody. Our visits would always start at the shop, Raisin’s. He was always working; that’s the life of being self-employed. I didn’t mind being in the shop at all and I would say I benefited from it. At six years old I would help with answering the phone, sweeping up hair and he would be made count the money at the end of the night. He was preparing me to be the entrepreneur I am today. I also spent a lot of time spinning around in the salon chair and walking across the stage as if I was a supermodel. But His work ethics and passion prepared me for my future and made me a better businesswoman.
Almost two years after his death, Katrina destroyed the beginning stages of reuniting with my Daddy’s side of the family. His family originated from the 9th Ward, most of them continued living in the area throughout their lives and Katrina forced them out. I was in contact with his sister my Aunt, Janice Thomas and Claudette, but haven’t heard from anyone since Katrina. It didn’t help that I lived in Minnesota and I left Nola when I was 18yrs old, so I didn’t have a solid bond with his side of the family as it was, but I would have some kind of relationship with them now. I know it may be awkward in the beginning, but we are technically family, and we can make it work. Seeing stories of reunification on TV can go either way, but it’s not like we do not know we exist. I met my aunts and uncles early in life and have memories. I can remember hugs from my Grandmother, sitting in her kitchen, and I remember playing with a boy cousin who was a little older than me.
I want my kids and grandkids to know my Daddy’s side of the family. I want my son, grandsons, and nephew to hear the stories of his life, so they can see the similarities they have with their GrandPapa. They were so young, but I’m happy my Daddy knew his grandkids and spent time with them before his death.
My Daddy didn’t have any son’s, and he was so happy to have grandsons, and it hurt him that we lived way in Minnesota. On a visit here to New Orleans, he took us all out to my favorite restaurant, Copeland’s. He got the private area so his grandkids could be themselves and they were, especially son Keenen. I remember how different he was with his grandsons than with us, girls when we were younger. My son, now college basketball player, Keenen was throwing his ball across the room, jumping out of his chair, rolling on the floor and I attempted to chastise him, knowing that my Daddy would do it if I didn’t, but no I got in trouble for trying to stop him… “Let, Keenen, be,” he said, my mouth is still opened in shock and disbelief. I just knew we had more of these moments to come.
I have two grandsons, and my daughter gifted me with the opportunity to name my 2nd grandson after my Daddy “George Anthony” Albert was a bit too old-fashioned for her, but my Daddy’s name although not Price will continue as his Legacy. If anything, we have his name and our memories, which are priceless and irreplaceable, but I yearn to know my family.
I lost lots of pictures and mementos of My Daddy after Katrina, my Momo’s house was totally destroyed, and she had my album and baby book. I reached out to his wife in an attempt to get a basketball trophy, tie, our pictures, even the ugly quilt I made with my own hands. I sent the quilt and a picture mug of My sister and I on an elephant at Audubon Zoo with my Daddy standing on the side of it as a Father’s Day present one year, and it would have meant a lot to at least have something I gifted him, or anything to pass on to my children. I have one faded pic of my Daddy and a short note he signed, Love always your one and only Daddy.” I wish I could have a color picture of my Daddy. My sister and I were left with the casket awnings which had golf clubs on it. Not sure what symbolic purpose these golf club paperweights have to anyone else, but this was the keepsake of George Price departing his daughter’s lives, the corner pieces of a coffin…..
He gave and showed me nothing, but the best, My Daddy loved us, and I feel his love in spirit today, always. He instilled the power of loving and taking pride in who we were while we were babies. Chocolate kinky headed Daddy’s Princesses is what we were, plus I was an official Daddy’s Girl. I thought I was Princess Tiana before Disney even thought of her. I say this because all of the Disney Princess stories be it Snow White, Cinderella Rapunzel, etc., names were replaced with my name. The whole book was remade, retype with my name “Deatra” I seriously thought I was Snow White when I was a little girl until the shock if elementary school.
My Daddy loved to shop. We went everywhere with him, even to big people places like the race track, golf course, and business meetings, but most of our time was spent in the department stores and the mall. And he dressed all of us in nothing but the best. Lords and Taylor’s, Sax, Maison Blanche, and Krauss were our stores. When we were out shopping, he would clown around and act like a monkey, the Hunchback and we would either disappear into the rack of clothes or chase after him, begging him to stop. He kept my sister, and I dressed in expensive designer dresses and shoes. There was nothing too good for us. As I look over pictures from my youth, I’m reminded of how much he loved us. One would think our Mama dressed us, but Nope my Daddy picked out our clothes, he combed our hair and cooked delicious fancy food for us.
Anytime I go into the department stores, mall or smell new clothing I can’t help but think of him. I find comfort when I shop, as well. My family used to tell me I had a shopping problem and maybe I did, but I needed those clothes and shoes for healing purposes. Lol.
After we shopped, we always ate dinner at the finest New Orleans restaurants with the white tablecloths and beautifully set the table since I was able to eat table food. One of my favorite restaurants was called the “Riverbend” located right on the Riverbend in Mid City, where Carrolton turns into St. Charles, where Camellia Grill and the Daiquiri Shop is located. At five years old may palate wasn’t ready for the delicious rich sauces I came to love, so my choice was always a cheeseburger and a non-alcoholic Pina Colada with extra cherries and pineapple on the side. We would either go to Melba’s Ice Cream Parlor on Franklin Ave in the 8th Ward to get our dessert, and I would get a double dipped cone with nuts of a banana split. We often walked through the French Market for fresh fruit and seafood. I loved Candied Apples. I could resist the shiny hard candy-coated apples. Onetime as I was biting on the apple I lost my grip, and it fell to the ground, and I picked it up, wiped it off, and finished eating it. And from that day on, my Daddy nicknamed me “Applehead.”
When my Daddy cooked at home, he played the role of chef and waiter. He would have the table set with sparkling China, crystal, and candles; he went all out for hid girls.
My Daddy loved antique cars, but I remember riding around in every type of car from old classics from big body SUVs. I used to be embarrassed to be seen in this old classic he named “Ghost.” Now, I realized how special these old school cars to the owners. But ”Ghost” was the late 1950s or early 1960s Chevy Impala, and I would sink back in the passenger seat to avoiding being seen. I would pass out when he pulled at my school to pick me up in old “Ghost.” Back then, old school cars were not thought of as cool as they are now. In addition to Ghost, he had this shiny black antique car, which I didn’t mind, because I saw Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth ride in that type of car, as well in gangsta movies. So, when he pulled up to Sophie B Wright in it I wasn’t ashamed to tell my friends it was my Daddy’s car.
He gave and showed me nothing, but the best, My Daddy loved us, and I feel his love in spirit today, always. He instilled the power of loving and taking pride in who we were while we were babies. Chocolate kinky headed Daddy’s Princesses is what we were, plus I was an official Daddy’s Girl. I thought I was Princess Tiana before Disney even thought of her
My Daddy died a few days after Christmas in 2003 after months of him going to doctor’s appointments for what he told me was nothing serious. Well, it turned out to life-ending and life-altering. I get mad now and then, knowing he hid his health from us. I tell myself if he would have told us he had cancer when he first found out just maybe we could have if anything prolonged his time with us. I was totally blindsided by the phone call telling us to get to New Orleans as soon as possible because his health was declining.
I flew out of Minnesota on December 22, 2003, leaving my young children behind to be at his side in his last days. At that time, all of my money had been spent on a Christmas shopping spree, and I was newly divorced. I would bring some of my kid’s toys back to purchased a oneway ticket after hearing he had a short time to live. I didn’t believe, because my Daddy was talking normally except for not knowing where his wallet was. He told me to, but the ticket and he would take care of everything when I arrived. The doctor informed him of his health, but he didn’t believe the report either.
I would never have thought that in less than a week, my Daddy would be gone. But I’m thankful I spent his last days at his side. I was allowed to stay with him in the ICU because they were understaffed that weekend. The nurses gave me a reclining chair, a pillow, and blankets, but there would be No rest for me. I watched my bigger than life; Daddy succumbs to the disease.
My Daddy fought hard to stay here with us. I watched as he pulled the ventilator tube from his throat, followed by removing his IV, and all of the monitor wires, he jumped out the hospital bed. He yelled for a manager and for someone to get his baby off the floor as four nursing try to restrain this giant of a man. He finally settled down when he heard me say,” Daddy, can you please sit on the bed so that they can move you back to a regular room.” I thought it was a miracle and doubted the doctor’s prognosis and took to Google to find another hospital to transfer him to. I was able to speak to a rep at the Cancer Center Treatment of America, and I was told that Oschner was their sister hospital and it was normal for him to appear normal and for me to be in denial. Later that evening, the doctor would use this opportunity to ask him if he wanted to be resuscitated again or placed on the Do Not Resuscitate list. To my surprise, my Daddy chooses not to be resuscitated, and he stated he did not like what he felt when they brought him back. I felt my heart swell up and expose into a million pieces. to this day my heart hasn’t recovered all of its pieces. I said,” Daddy you know if you don’t get resuscitated that means you will die?” He said he understood and I ran into the bathroom to cry. I could hear him ask the others in the room if I was crying and to get me out of the bathroom. He told me to come sit on the bed with him and told everyone to leave the room. He wiped the crocodile tears from my face as he asked why was I crying. I told him I didn’t want him to die and that I would probably die too from being heartbroken. He wrapped me in his arms and asked if I see the sun in the sky and I said yes. My Daddy told me, “Deatra, the sun will always shine, it will shine when its raining and it will shine when I’m gone and as long as it’s shining know that I will always love you and be here for you.” That would be our last conversation, his last words to me. He would scream out in pain and the doctor put him in a medicated coma. I didn’t sleep, because I had to make sure his chest rose. He breathing would become labored early the next afternoon and I noticed his eyes open a few times. I jumped on the bed and put my head on his chest because I thought I was hallucinating, but I knew his end was near. I pulled the call light and kept my head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat as the nurse confirmed what I knew. He lived for about 10 minutes after that with me hearing his heartbeat come to a stop as his wife held his hand.
He was right, the sun is still shining, I can feel his love for me and the pain is not as bad as it was. But today the reality of my loss creeps back in and I wish my Daddy was here…