Dr. Bojangles

Dear Hayley,

I used to call my dad Beau-jangles, because we both liked that Sammy Davis, Jr. song, “Mr. Bojangles,” so much.

I knew a man Bojangles and he’d dance for you
In worn out shoes
With silver hair, a ragged shirt, and baggy pants
The old soft shoe
He jumped so high, jumped so high
Then he lightly touched down

I met him in a cell in New Orleans I was
down and out
He looked to me to be the eyes of age
as he spoke right out
He talked of life, talked of life, he laughed
clicked his heels and stepped.

This is the latest picture of Beau-jangles at Juniper. The great grin with the sad eyes of age. I know we’re trying to avoid sad here, Hayley, but when I see my dad’s eyes like this, I want to cry.

I also have finished the re-writes on my book about him, and what I’ve learned FINALLY after thinking long and hard about my life with him is that he wasn’t just fighting Alzheimer’s in his work—-he was fighting for me too. He didn’t want to get the disease that killed his father, of course, but he might even have been more worried about the “child of his heart” getting it down the road. In his unique and complicated way, he was preparing me for when he got the disease, while fighting against it for both of us. Does that make sense? It took me 46 years, six months and two days to figure it out. My dad really loved me.



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