Richard Pryor’s Father and the Transforming Truth of Fatherhood


John David Duke Jr

David was begotten and conceived in the ordinary way in the middle of 1972, possibly on his father's birthday. Since then, it's been an unremarkable go, except for the time his dad took him to help disarm a Cherokee woman who was shooting at her mother with a rifle.

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1 Response

  1. Avatar Jaybird

    A lovely essay.

    I was born a year before but also remember getting paddled at school (only happened once!) and I remembered that my heart was broken for days because I had disappointed the authorities. Spankings? Oh, I had a handful of spankings. Not a *LOT*, I wasn’t a defiant child or anything like that, but I did… hrm. I can’t remember the things I did to get the belt. My grandfather told me more about the whuppins he got and the whuppins my dad got when they were kids than I actually got swatted myself.

    And now we live in a place where the few (very few!) times I got spanked are generally interpreted by society as Child Abuse.

    I don’t think that it was that. It might have been imperfect parenting but well within “is anything perfect in this veil of tears?” tolerances rather than something that I’d feel like I’d have to tell to a therapist.

    He died in 1982. Cancer.

    Maybe I’d have stronger opinions if I had had to deal with the whole adolescence thing with a father. Maybe I would have found defiance. Maybe I would have stayed in Michigan. Maybe my parents would have divorced like so many parents did in the 80’s (as it is, my father’s cancer brought them exceptionally close together before… yeah).

    As it is, I’m glad I’m not a father. I didn’t have time to figure it out.Report

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