Shotzy Harrison (SH) and James Flavy Coy Brown (JFB)
Narrator: You’re about to hear a combination of two interviews with Shotzy Harrison. She first came to StoryCorps with her father in 2013. She then recorded a follow up interview by herself, five years later, to reflect on that original conversation with her dad.
SH: My father has a Southern drawl.
JFB: I’m James Flavy Coy Brown and I’m here with my daughter.
SH: I’m Shotzy Harrison. And…
SH: I think of Yosemite Sam… almost like he’s trying to be funny, but that’s just his real voice.
SH: You were with me until I was three years old.
JFB: Yeah. When I got off work every night I’d pick you up from the daycare center and I always brought you one of those great big huge lollipops.
SH: And then you kept disappearing on me.
Narrator: Shotzy’s father has been treated for multiple mental health conditions over the years and has spent most of his adult life homeless. She only saw him a handful of times growing up–once she even found him living in the woods behind a hotel. But in 2013, Shotzy brought James home to live with her in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
SH: I showed you the pictures of my house, you know here’s the basement I fixed up for you and you said, “I’m going to be living like a king.”
JFB: You rescued me! Shotzy, do you ever worry about me living here with you?
SH: I do. I have two young girls and I don’t always feel like you’re the best influence on them. It’s just that you’re a little rough around the edges and uncouth and used to being homeless and not used to anybody especially your daughter telling you what you can and can’t do.
JFB: Yeah, it’s hard but I’m working on it. I don’t pee in the backyard anymore.
SH: [Laughs] The good outweighs the bad. You have tea parties with my daughters.
SH: So many favorite moments between us. Which one pops into your head first?
JFB: That night I was feeling real bad, and you held my hand until I went to sleep. You said, “Daddy, you can stay with me as long as you want to.”
SH: I didn’t know that meant so much to you.
JFB: Yeah. What are your hopes for me?
SH: I hope that your mental illness either stays stable or improves. I hope you can continue to live with us. Family Christmases, family birthdays, we have so many years to make up for. And I’m going to try my hardest to make sure that I don’t lose you again because you’re good at that disappearing act. I’m lucky to have you back in my life. I love you.
SH: Dad and I lost contact only a few months after the interview. I absolutely want to reunite with him again. And it’s in the back of my mind that he’s gonna be already dead and I’m gonna find that public record. That’s a crushing thought. But one of the things that keeps me going is I have a little of his stubborn will. And there’s something powerful between a father and a daughter that mental illness and time hopefully can’t break.
Narrator: That’s Shotzy Harrison in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We also heard her in conversation with her father, James Flavy Coy Brown.