Listen » Lisa Ray
Lisa Ray remembers her father, Lenoir Ray.
Recorded in Norfolk, VA
Produced by Vanara Taing.
Facilitated by Jeremy Helton.
Recorded in partnership with WHRO.
Click here to read the transcript for this story.
Lisa Ray: I lost my father when I was six and half and I just don't really have many strong memories of him. The ones that I do have, I kind of cling to uh.... When I was five I started to get a loose tooth and I told mom it was ready to come out and she said, "Oh, well, wait till Daddy gets home, that's his job." So he got home and started to go to work on it and when it was over he told me all these stories about the tooth fairy, you know, what it would be like when she came and what fairies were like. So when I went to bed that night I was so excited. My sister and I shared a bedroom and I put my tooth under my pillow and woke up the next morning and I stuck my hand under the pillow and pulled out my tooth.
Mommy and Daddy were eating breakfast so I held out my hand with the tooth on it. Momma started to say something and Daddy just threw his hand out and stopped her and said, "Ray is at the end of the alphabet, the tooth fairy must have been really busy last night, you've got to go back to bed... now!" So I crawled into bed and I started to dose off and then I heard these footsteps coming down the hallway. So I shut my eyes really quickly and I thought, ‘Don't fairies fly?’ And then I felt this presence over my face and this large hairy hand slide under the pillow and I thought, ‘Aren't fairies tiny little women?’ So I peaked through my lashes and I saw the door shutting and the back of a baldhead that looked just like my dad's. And I sat up and I pulled my quarter out. And my sister came in from the shower so I figured Vicky'd know because she was twelve and she knew everything. So I said, ‘I don't think there is a tooth fairly, I think it's Daddy.’ And she said, "What makes you say that?" And I told her what I'd seen and she said, "That was the gentle giant. He helps the tooth fairy when she’s busy.” I said, ‘Daddy didn't say anything about a giant.’ So she followed me to the kitchen and before I could say a word, she said, "Daddy, Lisa doesn't believe me about the gentle giant even though she just saw him.” And Daddy looked at me without missing a beat and said, "Of course! I told you about that yesterday.” I almost argued and then I suddenly realized that I had a mouthful of teeth and each one was worth a quarter... (laughing)
You know... that story... I've held onto that all those years because my dad really messed up... (laughing) it was my chance to see him as a human being. And it made me really happy that I had that one solid memory. I think every kid needs to see their parent as a human being.