Birthday Tour Report from Los Angeles, California: Happy Birthday to my Dad, Greg Hankins!
When I was seven, my Dad took me to a graduate seminar in religion at Harvard, where he was a student. I played with my Raggedy Ann doll and colored in the corner of the room. I was home sick from elementary school, my mom was at work, and there were no sitters available, so I went to Harvard for the day.
I saw how serious the students were and I listened to my Dad talk with a voice that has always sounded kind and tree-like to me. I couldn't easily understand what they were speaking about, but I loved the music of their discussion. I also noticed they were all writing things down. Their paper was not grey with big lines like mine, but white with skinny lines and all bound together. I had discovered the notebook.
After class, I asked my Dad for a notebook and he took me to The Coop in Harvard Square. When we got home, I asked him what I should write in it. He said, "Write me a story." So, I wrote about Will and Dill, two pickles who were forgotten in the back of the fridge. My next story was about kumquats. And so it began, my life of finding the best words.
Here's to my Dad who taught me to write and to play music, who sang to me, and sang with me -- to my Dad who took me to concerts and festivals, plays and museums. When I sat with my Dad in the Old-time tent at Merlefest, I had an epiphany about poetry, art, and music, and found my calling -- this calling.
The other day I was trying to tell my Dad this without making him feel too sheepish and he said, "Well, I took you to NASCAR, too, so you could have gone in a whole nother direction."
That's my Dad!
Photo: Starting my education early at Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina, at my Dad's graduation.