Aisling Bea: My fathers death has given me a love of men, of their vulnerability and tenderness

The comedians father killed himself when she was three. She was plagued by the fact he made no mention of her or her sister in the letter he left. Then, 30 years after his death, a box arrived

My father died when I was three years old and my sister was three months. For years, we thought he had died of some sort of back injury a story that we had never really investigated because we were just too busy with the Spice Girls and which one we were (I was a Geri/Mel B mix FYI). Then, on the 10th anniversary of his death, my mother sat us down and explained the concept of suicide. Sure, we knew about suicide. At 13, I had already known of too many young men from our town who had taken their own lives. Spoken about as inexplicable sadnesses for the families, spoken about but never really talked about terrible tragedy nobody knows why he did it. What we had not known until that day, was that our father had, 10 years beforehand, also taken his own life.

When I was growing up, I idolised my father. I thought his ghost followed me around the house. I had been told how he adored me, how I was funny, just like him. Because of our lovely Catholic upbringing, I secretly assumed that he would eventually come back, like our good friend Jesus.

My mother, being the wonder woman that she is, never held his death against him. When she looked into his coffin, she felt she saw the face of the man she had married: his stress lines had gone, he seemed free of the sadness that had been dogging him of late. But it was still tough for her to talk about. She didnt want to have to explain to a stranger in the middle of a party how he was not defined by his ending, but how loved he was, how cherished the charismatic, handsome vet in a small town had been. She didnt want his whole person being judged.

Once she had told us, I did not want to talk about him. Ever again. I now hated him. He had not been taken from us, he had left. His suicide felt like the opposite of parenting. Abandonment. Selfishness. Taking us for granted.

I didnt care that he had not been in his right mind, because if I had been important enough to him I would have put him back into his right mind before he did it. I didnt care that he had been in chronic pain and that men in Ireland dont talk about their feelings, so instead die of sadness. I didnt want him at peace. I wanted him struggling, but alive, so he could meet my boyfriends and give them a hard time, like in American movies. I wanted him to come to pick me up from discos, so my mother didnt have to go out alone in her pyjamas at night to get me.

I look like him. For all of my teens and early 20s, I smothered my face in fake tan and bleached my hair blond so that elderly relatives would stop looking at me like I was the ghost of Christmas past whenever I did something funny. You look so like your father, they would say. And as much as people might think a teenage girl wants to be told that she looks like a dead man, she doesnt.

Aisling Bea with her father. Photograph: Aisling Bea

And then there was the letter.

My mother gave us the letter to read the day she told us, but, in it, he didnt mention my sister or me.

I had not been adored. He had forgotten we existed. I didnt believe it at first. When I was 15, I took the letter out of my mothers Filofax and used the photocopying machine at my summer job to make a copy so I could really examine it. Like a CSI detective, I stared at it, desperate to see if there had been a trace of the start of an A anywhere.

I would often fantasise that, if I ever killed myself, I would write a letter to every single person I had ever met, explaining why I was doing it. Every. Single. Person. Right down to the lad I struck up a conversation with once in a chip shop and the girl I met at summer camp when I was 12. No one would be left thinking: Why? I would be very non-selfish about it. When Facebook came in, I thought: Well, this will save me a fortune on stamps.

Sometimes, in my less lucid moments, I was convinced that he had left a secret note for me somewhere. Maybe, on my 16th no, 18th no, 21st no, 30th birthday, a letter would arrive, like in Back to the Future. Aisling, I wanted to wait until you were old enough to understand. I was secretly a spy. That is why I did it. I love you. I love your sister, too. PS Heaven is real, your philosophy essay is wrong and I am totally still watching over you. Stop shoplifting.

This summer was the 30th anniversary of his death. In that time, a few things have happened that have radically changed how I feel.

Three years ago, Robin Williams took his own life. He was my comedy hero, my TV dad he had always reminded my mother of my father and his death spurred me to finally start opening up. I had always found it so hard to talk about. I think I had been afraid that if I ever did, my soul would fall out of my mouth and I would never get it back in again.

Last year, I watched Grayson Perrys documentary All Man. It featured a woman whose son had ended his life. She thought that he probably hadnt wanted to die for ever, just on that day, when he had been in so much pain. A lightbulb moment it had never occurred to me that maybe suicide had seemed like the best option in that hour. In my head, my father had taken a clear decision, as my parent, to opt out for ever.

My father had always seemed like an adult making adult decisions, but I suddenly found myself at almost his age, still feeling like a giant child. I looked at some of my male friends gorgeous idiots doing their gorgeous, idiotic best to bring up little daughters, just like he would have been.

Finally, just after my 30th birthday, a box turned up.

The miserable people he had worked for had found a box of his things filed away and rang my mother (30 years later) wondering whether she wanted them or whether they should just throw them in the bin.

She waited for us to fly home and we opened it together three little women staring into an almost-abandoned cardboard box.

Now, most of the box was horse ultrasounds which, Ill be honest, I am not into. But there was also his handwriting around the edges and, then, underneath the horse X-rays and files, there were the photographs.

Any child who has lost a parent probably knows every single photograph in existence of that parent. I had pored over them all, trying to put together the person he might have been.

The photos in the box had been collected from his desk after he had died. We had never seen them before. They were nearly all of me. He had had all of these photos stuck on his desk. I was probably the last thing he looked at before he died.

My fathers death has given me a lot. It has given me a lifelong love of women, of their grittiness and hardness traits that we are not supposed to value as feminine. It has also given me a love of men, of their vulnerability and tenderness traits that we do not foster as masculine or allow ourselves to associate with masculinity.

To Daddy, here is my note to you:

Im sad you killed yourself, because I really think that, if you could see the life you left behind, you would regret it. You didnt get to see the Berlin wall fall or Ireland qualify for Italia 90. You didnt get to see all the encyclopedias that you bought for us to one day use at university get squashed into a CD and subsequently the internet. You have never got to hear your younger daughters voice it annoys me sometimes, but it has also said some of the most amazing things when drunk. I think you would have been proud to watch your daughter do standup at the O2 and sad to see my mother watching it on her own. Then again, if you hadnt died, I probably wouldnt have been mad enough to become a clown for a living. I am your daughter and I am really fucking funny, just like you. But, unlike you, Im going to stop being it for five minutes and write our story in the hope that it may help someone who didnt get to have a box turn up, or who may not feel in their right mind right now and needs a reminder to find hope.

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at

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Trump’s New Obamacare Killer to Cost Uncle Sam $194 Billion

President Donald Trump is halting some Obamacare subsidies. A big money saver for taxpayers, right? Wrong. The move could actually force the government to dole out almost $200 billion more on health insurance over the next decade.

Here’s why: The insurer payouts Trump cut off aren’t the only government funds financing the program. Consumers also can get help with their insurance premiums. When the insurer subsidies are discontinued, those premiums are pushed higher — and because the consumer subsidies are far bigger than those given to insurers, that’s a costly trade.

More than eight in ten individuals who buy Obamacare plans get help paying their premiums directly from the federal government. Those subsidies effectively cap how much people have to pay for insurance as a percentage of their income. 

Even if premiums climb, people who receive those benefits won’t pay more out of their own pockets. The subsidies are available to people making as much as four times the federal poverty level, or just over $97,000 for a family of four.

That means that those most likely to be hurt by the president’s action aren’t low-income people who will still get help with their costs. Instead, consumers who make too much money to qualify for subsidies will now have to pay a much higher price for their health plans.

It all adds up to a hefty bill for taxpayers for as long as the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that ending the cost-sharing payments would increase the U.S. fiscal shortfall by $194 billion over the next decade as subsidy outlays jump.

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    Liliane Bettencourt, L’Oreal Billionaire Heiress, Dies at 94

    Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to the L’Oreal cosmetics empire and the world’s wealthiest woman, has died. She was 94.

    Her death was announced in a statement from Jean-Paul Agon, chief executive officer at L’Oreal Group. She died Wednesday at her home in Neuilly, a suburb west of Paris, according to a company spokesman. No cause was given.

    Liliane Bettencourt

    Photographer: Francois Durand/Getty Images

    Bettencourt, the only child of L’Oreal SA founder Eugene Schueller, owned about one-third of the company’s shares. During her lifetime, the Paris-based company grew from a small hair-dye supplier into the largest maker of beauty products with more than 30 brands including Lancome and Garnier sold in about 140 countries. In 2016 the company reported revenue of 25.8 billion euros ($27 billion).

    Bettencourt’s net worth was $42.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

    Her death will fuel speculation about Nestle SA’s 23 percent stake in L’Oreal, the second-largest holding after the Bettencourt family. The Swiss food company and the Bettencourt family have a shareholder agreement that limits either side from raising their respective stakes until six months after the death of Liliane Bettencourt, according to the company’s 2016 registration document. This restriction will now lift in March 2018. 

    L’Oreal in 2014 bought back 8 percent of its stock from the Swiss food company, which is free to sell the cosmetics company’s shares. Nestle’s website notes it will continue to act in concert with the Bettencourt family for the remaining duration of the shareholders’ agreement.

    “Friendship, taste for life, knowledge, health. I would say that these are the things that are the most valuable,” Bettencourt said in a rare interview with French literary magazine L’Egoiste in 1988. “Everything that isn’t measured is what matters most.”

    Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers

    Photographer: Mehdi Fedouach/AFP via Getty Images

    After the death of Bettencourt’s husband, French conservative politician Andre Bettencourt, in 2007, the media-shy heiress spent her final years embroiled in a legal spat with their only child, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers.

    Assigned Guardians

    Bettencourt Meyers claimed her mother was mentally unfit and had been manipulated by her entourage, especially one friend to whom she gave about 1 billion euros in gifts and cash. In 2011, a French judge assigned Bettencourt’s daughter and two grandsons as guardians over her interests.

    Liliane Bettencourt’s fortune now passes onto Bettencourt Meyers, 64, who heads the family’s investment company. An academic, she wrote books on Greek mythology and Jewish-Christian relations. As main guardian of the family’s assets, including its stake in L’Oreal, Bettencourt Meyers succeeds her mother as the world’s richest woman.

    Under French inheritance law — which dates from the Napoleonic era — Bettencourt Meyers, as the sole child, must receive at least 50 percent of her mother’s estate. She’s credited with the entire estate in Bloomberg’s analysis.

    In the 1988 magazine interview, Bettencourt discussed the role that wealth may have played in her personal relationships.

    Bettencourt with her husband Andre Bettencourt in Nov. 1973.

    Photographer: Alain Dejean/Sygma via Getty Images

    “Obviously, it’s surely more comfortable to be certain that you are loved for your soul,” she said. “But I didn’t have this concern.” She said when she sometimes wondered whether she was loved for her money, “I have smiled and said to myself, ‘If it’s more, so much the better.’”

    Secret recordings of Bettencourt, made by a former butler, spawned separate inquiries into allegations of campaign finance violations related to former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election. Bettencourt denied the reports. In 2013, French authorities dropped charges against Sarkozy.

    Bettencourt also lost money in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

    ‘Empty Pit’

    Liliane Henriette Betsy Schueller was born Oct. 21, 1922, in Paris. She was 5 years old when her mother, Louise, died, leaving Liliane with with what she called “an empty pit nothing could ever fill.” She was raised by Dominican nuns.

    Bettencourt described her childhood as dominated by a stern, workaholic father who woke up every day at 4 a.m. When she turned 15, she was sent to one of her father’s factories to glue labels on L’Oreal bottles.

    While providing his daughter with France’s biggest fortune, Eugene Schueller had embarrassed her by his politics. Before and during the World War II, he was a staunch supporter of La Cagoule, a fascist group with ties to the Nazi regime.

    During the 1930s Schueller hosted La Cagoule’s meetings at L’Oreal’s headquarters in Paris. Bettencourt’s daughter Francoise went on to marry the grandson of a rabbi who died in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

    L’Oreal owes its origins — and its name — to Aureole, a nontoxic hair colorant Schueller developed in 1907 and sold to Parisian beauty salons. Two years later, the young chemist registered his business under the name Safe Hair Dye Company of France.

    After her father’s death in 1957, Bettencourt entrusted L’Oreal to his best friend, Francois Dalle, who remained chief executive officer until 1984.

    Lindsay Owen-Jones, who became CEO in 1988, turned the company into the global cosmetics giant it is today.

    Bettencourt had two grandchildren. Her grandson, Jean-Victor Meyers, replaced her on L’Oreal’s board in 2012.

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      A moment that changed me: finding out that my dad was an Auschwitz baby | Namalee Bolle

      The discovery that my real grandparents died in the Holocaust helped me understand my father and made me determined to help others, says artist and writer Namalee Bolle

      Mum was sombre as she spoke, so I knew it was serious. Shes not the kind of mother who is unsmiling very often so when she is, its deeply unsettling. Her kind almond eyes were intense as she became the storyteller of the kind of drama you go to the movies for.

      Oma is not your real grandmother. In 1943 she pretended Dad was her own baby that she lost in a miscarriage. She risked her life and saved your dad from the Nazis. Her voice became quieter as she told the family secret.

      Your grandad handed Dad to her in the middle of the night with tears streaming down his face and never returned. Your real grandparents were Jews who died in Auschwitz.

      As a 16-year-old teenager I was at my wits end about my erratic, volatile dad but suddenly it all made perfect sense. His rages, panic attacks and severe depression only seemed to worsen as the years went by, and he had an awful debilitating lung condition from which he struggled to breathe. Sometimes he was lovely comedic with a weird Dutch sense of humour that had us in stitches, but fun Dad didnt last long before he became gloomy Dad again.

      Intuitively I knew in my heart he loved us and I tried to reach out to him, but it was monumentally challenging because I was still a child, and he was psychologically abusive to me and my younger sister whom I was ferociously protective of. Our home felt like a war zone where Shirani and I were fighting for our own survival, against our father.

      My grandparents names were Leo and Hildegard Denneboom. My dads name was originally Leo too, but he was renamed Hans Bolle and grew up in Amsterdam. Jacoba Bolle, Dads heroic second mother, was married to Max Bolle, but he died of a heart attack when Dad was only 17.

      Years later I would discover psychosomatic connections between unhealed grief and respiratory problems, but I know Dad wouldnt have listened. He was in denial of the root cause of his problems and refused help. It was as if he felt he deserved to suffer for still being alive. I believe this survivors guilt is what eventually led to his own death five years ago this summer, four years after his adoptive mother Jacoba died at 96.

      Intuitively I knew in my heart he loved us . Hans Bolle. Photograph: Namalee Bolle

      What dad really needed was a therapist like Dr Viktor Frankl, inventor of logotherapy, who was a Holocaust survivor himself, as documented in his brilliant book Mans Search for Meaning. Frankls existential method was highly relatable to our situation and he inspired me to train as a psychotherapist myself.

      I didnt start to fully acknowledge I was a second generation Holocaust survivor until I was in my late 20s and well into my fashion career, having cofounded my own magazine SUPERSUPER! The ultra-bright, relentlessly positive tone and hyper-colourful styling were in fact born of coping mechanisms of growing up with the overarching burden of death and my dads colossal pessimism about his past. I also became aware of epigenetic inheritance the transferral of trauma through DNA that makes it more likely for me to be affected by stress so I learned mindfulness meditation and reiki to self-soothe and protect myself.

      Dad simply did not know how to stop the pain spilling out of him and into us. He was tortured by his past and had no tools for dealing with it as emotional difficulties and mental health problems were not something a man felt comfortable admitting to at the time. Without the unconditional love of my incredible mother I do not believe he would have lasted as long as he did. I have thought endlessly about my grandmothers altruism in helping a baby in need while putting herself in grave danger. Thanks to her I would not think twice about adopting a child.

      The discovery of my true background has given me the deepest awareness to search with tremendous empathy when determining the link between PTSD and the mental and physical symptoms it creates. Now I am going to honour my family and our bittersweet tale by helping others with their healing too.

      Namalee Bolle is an artist and writer with a background in fashion and creative direction. Winner of the Guardian Jackie Moore award for fashion journalism, she was also fashion director for Sleazenation, co-founder of SUPERSUPER! magazine and has contributed to I-D, the Evening Standard and Vogue

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      Goldie TaylorThe Search for My Fathers Killer

      ST. LOUISJust before daybreak, sitting at the edge of her bed in an upper bedroom, she clutched her pale blue housecoat and listened tearfully to the transistor radio on the nightstand. At the top of the hour, a familiar, melodic voice confirmed what she already knew: Her husband was dead.

      It had been a tumultuous relationship, at times beautiful and at others marred with ugliness. They were separated and had been for several years, living worlds apart and with other people now, but he was still hersstill her husband and the father of her youngest child. The news that he had been murderedfound shot in the head and pronounced dead on arrival at a city-run hospitalwas devastating.

      Shed gotten the fateful call from nightclub owner Gene Normanwho doubled as a disc jockey on KATZ-AM 1600as she closed her shift as a cocktail waitress at The Windjammer. She left the bar, situated atop the Marriott Hotel near Lambert Field, and began the 20-mile drive home east along Interstate 70. As she crossed the Mississippi River into East St. Louis, Norman took to the airwaves and dedicated a songGladys Knights Midnight Train to Georgiato Jerry.

      he couldnt make it,so hes leaving the life hes come to know

      It was still dark out when she pulled into the public housing complex in the Duck Hill neighborhood. She wailed, screaming and shaking in her car.

      Id rather live in his world,than live without him in mine

      I watched my mother descend the stairs that Sunday morning. Overcome with grief, her voice breaking and her body still trembling, she reached for me. Hes gone, she whispered, grabbing me with both hands. Your daddy was killed.

      It was 1973 and I was 5 years old. Even then, I knew what death meant. As our family gathered at Aunt Geraldines house on 10th Street that evening, my uncle held me through the night. I curled up in his lap and sobbed until I slept.

      I am 48 now, with grown children and grandchildren of my own, butin so many waysthose tears have never stopped falling. I still think about him every dayhow our lives might have been different, about who killed him and why. Some 43 years later, his murder remains unsolved.

      In the months and years following his death, relatives floated theories when they thought I wouldnt understand or was out of earshot. I quietly tallied the names and places as I listened to grown folks recount pieces of the story, some fact and some folly, over liquor and card games.

      When I was old enough to ask questions, few answers came. Each person I asked came to the same dark, dead-end alleyway and stopped. For my fathers mother, Catherine, and for my mother, Mary Alice, I know, the memories were far too painful.

      Let sleeping dogs lie, Grandmother Catherine said, repeatedly, until I stopped asking.

      When Grandma Cat died in 1994, Id started digging through old newspaper clippings and scouring court documents for clues, finding loose threads to pull on in the story that no onewhether out of fear or loyaltywould tell me. In doing so, I discovered things about the man my father had been, things that made it tough to keep going. It could not have been easy to love this dreamer with delusions of grandeur, as my mother described himcertainly not to love him as hard and as thoroughly as both she and my grandmother had.

      He kept dreaming,That someday hed be a starBut he sure found out the hard way,That dreams dont always come true

      With stops and starts, I have spent decades looking for answers, slowly and methodically stitching together the fabric of a story no one would talk about. New questions and new answers have emerged over the years as I chased down a faceless killer. But in the end, I came up shortunable to answer the driving question: Who murdered my father?

      My search ended where it had begun: with a man named Roland B. Norton Jr.


      Roland was a desperate mandesperate to survive the violent drug war brewing in north St. Louis and desperate to stay out of prison. Charged with two counts of dealing heroin, Norton was quickly released on bond and hit the street with one end in mind: find the government informant threatening his freedom and kill him.

      In the weeks leading up to his November 1973 federal drug-trafficking trial, two men were shot, in separate incidents, execution-style. The second man, Wyart Taylor, was my father. He was found, blocks from his house in north St. Louis, face down on a sidewalk in a pool of blood.

      A grand jury indictmentannounced by Donald J. Stohr, the U.S. district attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri in the fall of 1973spelled out the damning case against Norton, who was suspected of having connections to at least two notorious drug rings that kept north St. Louis awash in brown sugar and snow. On Aug. 10 of that year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that 24-year-old Nortonwho was then employed as an auditor in the city license collectors officeand another man named Bernard Pratt were allegedly part of a large-scale narcotics sales operation.

      Secured in March, the Norton indictment had been sealed for nearly six months to protect the identity of a federal witness and the integrity of other ongoing investigations. However, once Norton was arrested that August, the document became public and Norton immediately launched a city-wide manhunt for the witness.

      Eager to unmask the unnamed informant, Nortons defense attorneys filed a bill of particulars on Sept. 6, demanding that the government furnish him with the time, place, and name of the party, if there is any, who are witnesses to the transactions. They also moved to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that the delay had prejudiced his ability to present an effective defense, thereby violating his Fifth Amendment right to due process.

      The judge in the case, John F. Nagle, denied both motions, leaving Norton to guess who was cooperating with the FBI and DEA.

      According to court records, there were two transactions on or about Feb. 26 of that yearone for $350, the other for $500, together weighing 3.9 gramsand, based on that information, Norton figured out who set him up. Just over a month after the indictment was unsealed and the defendant was released on bond from federal custody, Michael Big Mike Jones was tracked down and killed on Sept. 17. Although he was not among the listed witnesses and had no known drug involvement, the second manmy father, Wyartwas murdered on Nov. 5 as he walked home from an illicit card game.

      Nortonthe son of a disgraced St. Louis police officerwas never charged in the murders, nor is there any evidence that he was an official suspect in either shooting. According to Grandma Cat, local authorities quickly wrote off both as robberies gone bad and she said the investigations were summarily closed. When she went downtown to police headquarters to offer a cash reward for information about her sons murder, the desk sergeant allegedly told her, Go home, lady. Nobody cares who killed your boy.

      But the streets were whispering about the likelihood that Norton, also a reputed pimp who was said to be fond of fine clothes, flashy jewelry, and beautiful women, was involved. Before his arrest on federal drug-trafficking charges, Norton enjoyed the high lifereplete with full-length fur coats, silk-ribboned wide-brimmed hats, and scantily clad, cooing cocktail waitresses who answered at his beckoning. Despite those trappings, and a well-paying city job secured with his fathers connections, he frequently borrowed money from a local loan shark named Papa Joe Henry.

      The younger Norton also relied heavily on his father, with whom he still lived in the 4500 block of McMillan Avenue at the time of his indictment.

      From the first time I overheard his name in the early 1980s, I was told Norton was the son of a Korean War veteran and dirty cop said to have taken bribes to protect area drug dealers and underground nightclubs, and to have fed police information to Italian mobsters. How much of what my older cousins said was fact or folly I did not know. However, some of that information was confirmed recently when I learned that Norton Sr. had been brought up on decidedly thin charges of public corruption and demoted by the St. Louis Police Department in 1959, after just three years on the force. He resigned five years after that, amid a second investigation into allegations of wrongdoing and after hed allegedly been seen frequenting a tavern of ill-repute as an off-duty officer.

      The formal charge cited specific instances that he was alleged to have collected admittance fees, removed objectionable customers and closed the doors at closing hours. He had also associated with a woman wanted for burglary. Two years later, in 1966, Norton Sr. was shot in the leg during an altercation over a strip tease dancer. Tragically, his wife, Ellyn, was killed along with two others in a 1970 car accident on Illinois Route 127, just north of Greenville, Illinois, after another vehicle crossed the centerline and struck them head-on.

      By 1973, Norton Sr. was a widower living on his military pension who did not have the means to make his sons five-figure bail. A few months ago, I tracked down a woman, a family acquaintance who had been the live-in girlfriend of a rival drug lord. She hesitantly told me that a pair of Norton Jr.s midlevel drug captains posted the $50,000 cash bond. I was unable to find a trace of either man in public records, but she said they were looking after their own interests. The drug-runners needed Norton out of jail, away from federal agents and potential jailhouse informants. They need Norton to handle that business, the ex-girlfriend told me.

      The government witness needed to be found and silenced.

      When Norton was first taken into custody, investigators reportedly pressured him about his ties to drug gangs operating in St. Louisincluding the notorious Petty Brothersand offered him a deal that included immunity but no federal protection. Norton refused to tell FBI and DEA agents who he was working for. Roland aint wanna die, the rivals ex-girlfriend said, and he damn sure aint wanna to go to jail.

      Norton had few real options and, the way he saw it, there was just one way out. He knew who made the buys from him based on the dates and amounts listed in the indictment. Prosecutors believed by sealing the indictment against Norton they were buying time to make headway in breaking up a suspected ring of high-end dealers and put an end to the bloodshed. The document, unsealed by federal law upon Nortons arrest, might as well have been a death warrant.

      Big Mike was a dead man walking, an older female cousin told me.

      Described by my cousin as a large flamboyant gay man, Big Mike was making a decent living setting up dealers for the federal investigators. He was a small-time hustler, she said, and court records confirm that Jones was actively helping in several cases.

      Bodies were dropping every other day, my cousin, who was once engaged to one of St. Louiss most notorious crime bosses, told me.

      Feweven my cousinwould talk with me on the record without anonymity about the drug war that was touched off in the early 1970s and lasted into the early 80s. Almost no one wanted to talk about the violencewhich included car bombings and movie-theater shootingsthat littered the nightly newscasts.

      But Dennis Haymon, a former drug kingpin himself who led one of the areas deadliest gangs, knew both Norton and Jones well. My cousin told me about Haymon, and I quickly found him still living in St. Louis.

      Haymon remembers that Big Mike was a drug addict who knew how to get money. Jones, he said, was also a well-known booster and a money-getter who peddled stolen goods around the corner of Pendleton and Finney avenues.

      Despite Nortons legal predicament, he wasnt a real killer, Haymon, who was once one of the most feared men to walk the streets of St. Louis, told me over a series of phone calls spanning hours in recent months. Now an ordained minister and an anti-gang activist writing his memoirs, Haymon served 25 years of a life sentence after he was convicted on murder charges in 1979.

      Haymon confirmed what Id read in old newspaper clips, that he had been locked in a bloody war with the Petty BrothersSamuel, Lorenzo, and Josephfor nearly a decade. In one incident, he said the Pettys climbed atop a nightclub and sprayed a crowd with bullets in a failed attempt to kill him. Five club-goers were shot and a woman standing five feet from Haymon was killed in the incident, but Haymon got away.

      My family had been close to the Pettys when I was growing up. As a child, I had been fond of Joewho was engaged to my cousin and fathered two of her now grown daughters. He was a good-looking man with wide, nickel-sized eyes and a full beard. I remember how he had always been especially kind to me, even helping me land my first job at 14 as a dining-room attendant in a downtown St. Louis restaurant that was reputedly run by the mob.

      I knew nothing of about his life as a drug dealer or about the string of gangland shootings in which he had allegedly been involved. Joe had been shot once, I knew, while sitting outside a convenience store that he owned. He refused to talk to the responding police officers about the incident, saying only that he would take care of it.

      When I asked him about my father back in 1983, Joe kissed my forehead and said, You cant bring him back.

      Joe, who died after a suspicious motorcycle accident the following year, used to tell me how much I looked like my father. If he knew what happened to him, he never said, and that secret was buried with him. But in so many ways, Joe had been my protector. A once stern music teacher in junior high school suddenly treated me more gently after she learned that I had family ties to Joe. I never met his brother Sam, an ex-convict who was sent away on federal drug-trafficking charges and died of bone cancer in the 1990s.

      But recently, I contacted Lorenzothe only surviving brotherafter cajoling a mutual acquaintance for his cell number. Though I had never actually met Lorenzo, I had always been told that he was an evil man. His first arrest came in 1964, at just 15 years old, when he stabbed 21-year-old Leroy Chappel over 25 cents.

      Lorenzo is one mean dude, and just about everybody is scared to death of him, a detective said after he was arrested in 1978. Maybe, just maybe with him being locked up, things will cool down. A search warrant for his Northwoods house turned up sticks of dynamite, assault rifles, ammunition, and a bullet-proof vest.

      My fingers twitched as I dialed the number. I stammered, at first, then told him why I was calling.

      I cant help you with that, Lorenzo said, repeatedly, as I peppered him with questions about Roland Norton Jr. and Big Mike Jones. He hung up at the mere mention of my fathers name.

      If the Petty Brothers knew what happened to Big Mike or my father, those secrets will almost certainly die with the last of them. I phoned Haymon again, pressing him for more details.

      Roland was soft, Haymonthe only person willing to talk on the record with his name attachedsaid of Big Mikes murder. He had problems pulling the trigger.

      A second, unidentified man supposedly took the pistol from Norton and finished the job.

      But even with Big Mike dead, there remained at least one potential witness to testify against Nortonone of his closest associates, in whom he confided nearly everything and to whom, a source said, Norton purportedly owed a piece of money.

      Seven weeks after Big Mike was killed, minutes after a resident on Kossuth Avenue called police to report shouting and gunshots, a 30-year-old man was discovered face down on the sidewalk. The victim had been shot four times in the head, at close range, with a .22 caliber pistol. Three rounds were still lodged in his brain. The last blast entered his left temple and exited the right side of his face.

      Die nigger. Nigger, die quick, the gunman reportedly said, according to the St. Louis Daily Whirl, a notorious local crime tabloid.

      Given the circumstances and the coroners report, I thought it had to be more than a robbery gone bad, as my grandmother had been told. Everything I knew about my fathers killingfour bullets to the head at close range and the words allegedly said as he lay dyingsuggested it was personal. The shooting reeked of vengeance and malice. And the more I learned about Norton and his connections to St. Louiss underworld, the more convinced I became that my fathers association with Norton had cost him his life.

      How much did my father actually know about Roland Nortons dealings? Was he one of the governments witnesses in the federal drug case? Was he in league with the drug gangs that ruled the streets of St. Louis? And perhaps more critically, was my father the trigger man in the murder of Big Mike Jones?

      Candidly, there were moments when I did not want to know the truth. Over four decades later, I know that most of those questions will go unanswered. To find some of them, I had to search the annals of my own family history.


      Florence Blackard (ne Carroll) was a drug-addled prostitute. In the mid-1930s, my great-grandmother was penniless and estranged from her husband, Murray, when she was forced to give up her two daughters after child services intervened. The timid, malnourished girlsmarked with old scars, mended bone fractures, and fresh bruiseswere led from the rodent-infested apartment on Pine Street that had no running water or electricity.

      A busted radiator, situated near a sheet-covered window overlooking the avenue below, emitted no heat. The bone-cold, three-room unit was festooned with cockroaches, rotting garbage, and empty bottles of cheap liquor still in their brown carry-out sacks. A well-used douche bag, stained with a deep red Betadine solution, hung on a hanger in the moldy bathroom.

      The beatings, Florences youngest daughter, Catherine, would later tell child welfare workers, came almost daily, and they rarely attended school. She and her older sister, Juanita, had been whipped by their mother, she said, with electrical cords and flogged with the buckle end of a leather belt. Social workers also deemed their father, an alcoholic who worked as a janitor and lived in a rooming house, unfit to care for his daughters, who were sent to the St. Louis Colored Orphans Home (now known as Annie Malone Children and Family Services).

      In the late 1930s, Catherine and Juanita were adopted by a former chicken picker turned cement mixer from Middle Fork, a tiny settlement in northeast Missouri near Macon, and his college-educated wife, who hailed from the same town. Raised in The Ville section of St. Louisonce home to tennis star Arthur Ashe, boxer Sonny Liston, comedian Dick Gregory, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Chuck Berry and Tina Turnerthe girls flourished under the watchful eyes of Thomas Angell Hubbard and his wife, Nina Grant.

      Catherine and Juanita, who took their adopted fathers name, spent holidays and summers in Macon enjoying hayrides along with a bevy of new cousins. In old photographs, they appear healthy and well-fed, beaming at the camera and wearing new clothes for the first time.

      However, when 15-year-old Catherine became pregnant in 1942, she was sent to live with Hubbards family in northern Illinois. She gave birth to her first and only child the following summer.

      Born on July 17, 1943, in Galesburg, Wyart Taylor Jr. was a slight boy with an apple-shaped cleft chin and serious eyes. With the his biological father largely absent, Catherine married an Army private the following year and moved to Minneapolis, where he was stationed at Fort Snelling.

      Catherine, my paternal grandmother, spoke little about her early life and said almost nothing about her life in Minnesota. She did tell me that my father had a son with his girlfriend. In 1963, my oldest brother, Terrence, was born in Minneapolis. I tracked him down in 1993, the year before our grandmother died, when I was 25. At the time, he was a 30-year old Navy officer, stationed in Jacksonville, Florida. Terry, who looks strikingly like our father, never really knew him. It had been my grandmothers dying wish to see Terrynow retired from military serviceand me together. We missed that chance, but he was with me at her small memorial service and, in the years since, Ive tried to give him the family he missed.

      As I came of age, my grandmother enjoyed telling and retelling stories about my father and their exploits, and Ive shared many of them with my brother. Over breakfast in her Miami kitchen, the retired housekeeper would launch into soaring tales.

      There was the time, in 1965, when my father was holed up in a motel room. Four or five armed men, to whom he owed a sizable gambling debt, had the building surrounded. Every exit was covered. According to Grandma Cat, they were careful about who they allowed in or out, and my father didnt have his pistol.

      Cat hatched a plan. At nightfall, she stuffed an overnight bag with three handguns, a box of ammunition, and some old rags. She slipped on an old tattered dress, a floppy hat, and a pair of house slippers. Pretending to be drunk, she stumbled past the men and into the lobby. Once upstairs, grandmother handed over the suitcase of weapons. Cat claimed that she and my father shot their way out of the lobby.

      A week later, the same men drove up on my father as he walked to work. Someone sitting in the back seat opened fire. Shot in the upper shoulder, he rolled under a parked car and played dead. He stayed there until his brother-in-law, my Uncle Ross, had the vehicle moved and took him to the hospital.

      Years after my biological grandfatherWyart Taylor Sr.was crushed to death in an elevator shaft, allegedly by his stepfather, Richard, my father ran into Richard tossing back whiskey shots at a local tavern. Wyart Sr.s death was ruled an accident but, when my father saw Richard, he promptly introduced himself and, according to my grandmother, he beat the old man to within an inch of his life.

      My father was the hero in every story my grandmother ever told.

      Cat didnt talk about the time my father broke a long-neck beer bottle over a bar and sliced a mans throat for calling my mother a black bitch. I overheard my late Aunt Doris Jean saying the manknown on the streets as Redsurvived, but only because my dad had him dropped off at a nearby emergency room. It was Doris Jean, my Uncle Willie Byrds wife who was prone to gossip, who revealed another incident in 1967.

      After a neighbor told my father that it was my mothers nephew who had robbed our house in broad daylight, my father beat him so badly that his jaw had to be wired shut. Because he was family, Daddy then drove my cousin to the hospital himself and paid the bill in cash.

      But the year before he succumbed to HIV/AIDS in 1995, my brother Donniemy mothers son from a previous marriageopened up about the beatings he suffered as a child. I will never forget how he broke down that Thanksgiving, sobbing as he told me what my father had done to him.

      There were few mentions about my fathers life in the newspapers of the day. I do not know if he was arrested in any of the incidents my grandmother described or others that she would not talk about. But recently, while tracing through the archives of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I learned that he had in fact been arrested once and charged with aggravated battery related to a fight on March 5, 1967. The charge was upgraded to involuntary manslaughter when the victim, a foreign exchange student, died after languishing on life support at Barnes Hospital.

      Bog Soo Byun, a third-degree black belt from Seoul, South Korea, studying engineering at Washington University, suffered a skull fracture after being repeatedly stomped and kicked. His brother Ho Soo escaped with cuts and bruises. They had come to my godmothers bar, the Gold Room, on the corner of Delmar and Euclid, to take Polaroid photographs and sell them to customers. My father ordered them out. The fight allegedly started when Bog Soo karate-kicked my father, according to defense attorneys.

      They told the jury that my father had acted in self-defense.

      The trial, held in September 1968, ended in a hung jury, and the charge against my father was abandoned.

      Learning of moments like these, I wanted to forget that I was his child. The more I looked, the less he looked like the loving son and devoted husband and father I had been told about. I wondered how a man could truly love his children if he lived that life.

      Even though my mother relayed side-splitting stories about her high school classmate, Anna Mae Bullockwho would later become known the world over as Tina Turnerit wasnt until two years ago, sipping salted margaritas on my sisters back porch in Tampa, that my mother told me how she met my father. Those were good times, she said, as she giddily recalled spotting the man with movie-star looks walking up the street. Riding in the car with my Aunt Geraldine, she begged her sister to turn around and follow him. She watched as he went into a nearby nightspot.

      My mother went home, quickly dressed up in her finest clothes, and went back to the tavern. She sat at the far end of the bar, night after night, watching woman after woman make his acquaintance. He was a hairdresser, she learned, who specialized in bouffants, roller-sets, up-dos, and the women who wore them.

      She decided to send him a drink, and that was enough to get his attention. A few weeks later, when he took sick with the flu, she nursed him back to health while his then girlfriend was watching television in the living room.

      After a brief courtship, they married in my Grandmother Alices living room in a small house on Cabanne Avenue in 1966 and settled in University City. If my math is right, he was 23 and she was 25. My brother Christopher and I were born two years later.

      In the summer of 68, hed been out on a bender to celebrate his birthday when my mother went into labor. When he stumbled into St. Lukes Hospital the next day, the nurse said we were gone. Thinking his wife and children were dead, he went back to the Gold Room and continued drinking until somebody saw fit to carry him home, where he discovered us happy and healthy. He proudly hoisted his babies onto the bar. I was named after its owner, my godmother, Goldie Holly.

      During their time together, he adorned my mother with fur coats and expensive clothes, including Chanel nightgowns, and diamond rings. A sought-after hairstylist who worked nights and weekends at the Gold Room, he frequented social balls and some of the citys most notable nightclubs with my mother.

      Until a few weeks ago, I never knew the details of why she left him, though I had my suspicions. The drinking and the women were likely too much. Until two years ago, when my mother finally began to crack the door on her life with my father, no one ever talked about that snowy night in January 1969. In a drunken jealous rage, hed slammed my mothers face through a plate-glass window. That story rests in a keloid scar still visible above her eyebrow. If there were other incidents of violence in our house, my mother never spoke of them.

      Your daddy was the love of my life, she told me, time and time again. But that night would be the straw that broke the camels back, she said.

      She hid her two older children from a previous marriage with her sister, Geraldine, and her husband, Albert Ross, separated her babies, and went to stay with a friend at Fort Leonard Wood until she could figure out where to go. Within weeks, she was living a new life five hours away in Chicago. On April 1, 1969, she started a job as a waitress in a family restaurant at the Marriott Hotel next to OHare Airport. She saved her money, got a place of her own, and sent for her children.

      One afternoon, my father showed up unannounced at the restaurant, sat in her station, and ordered coffee. He begged for forgiveness. She told me she was too afraid to go back to work the next day.

      Youre a damn fool if you go back to him, her mother, Alice, scolded. He soon moved to Chicago, took a job at the post office, and continued his entreaties.

      Though they never reconciled, in time things cooled and in 1971 they returned separately to St. Louis, where she continued working for a Marriott Hotel near Lambert Field. He later moved in with a woman named Sylvia, and my mother began dating Tony, a diminutive Italian man with his own checkered past who was easy on the eyes. Despite their newfound relationships, my father never gave up on my mother. He cajoled her with sweet talk and gifts, but my mother never took him back. He never stopped being hers.

      My father was killed less than two years later.

      I sometimes remember more than I want to about him. Sometimes I want to forget the haunting stories and hold on to Christmas mornings and the buckets of pennies he would deliver on my birthday. I still have fond memories of the yellow kite he bought for me from Miss Cherrys store and how I felt like the luckiest little girl in the world. Hed come to Aunt Geraldine and Uncle Rosss house in East St. Louis for a family cookout. It was Memorial Day 1973, and he was still trying to find his way back into my mothers heart.

      We never could get that kite to fly.


      By all accounts, my father was a cautious man who kept few friends and allowed almost no one into his personal space. Fatefully, the night he was killed, hed decided at the last minute to go to a late night poker game.

      He was worried, hed told my motherabout what and who he did not saybut couldnt resist the temptation of easy money. He never played back his winnings and knew, if he was sober, when to walk away. Besides, the address in the 4700 block of Kossuth Avenue was less than a half-mile from his job and mere blocks from his house on the corner of Margaretta and Euclid avenues.

      Aunt Doris Jean said the invitation came from someone he trusted: Roland Norton.

      At closing time on Nov. 5, 1973 just before Norton was set to stand trial in the federal drug casemy father left his part-time job at the Polynesian Room, a Tiki-style local haunt situated on the ground floor of the Carousel Motel on North Kingshighway, and walked to the address hed been given.

      Except there was no game that night.

      As he knocked on the door of a dark house on Kossuth Avenuea narrow, tree-lined street two blocks from his own househe was hit with a baseball bat and then shot four times in the head with a small-caliber handgun.

      Two gold and diamond rings were stripped from his fingers. His gold necklace and the watch his mother had given him for his birthday that summer were also taken, and his empty pockets left turned inside out. The nearest emergency room was less than a mile away, but according to the death certificate, the victim was pronounced dead on arrival at Homer G. Phillips Hospital.

      Live by the sword, die by the sword, Aunt Doris Jean said of his murder.

      Though they never said as much, my conversations with Haymon and others led me to believe that my father might have been targeted because he had been the trigger man in the killing of Big Mike. My grandmother would have strongly disputed that notion, saying my father never shot anyone who didnt point a gun at him first. However, everything I know about this caseabout the trail of violence that seemed to follow my fathersays it is possible.

      After Big Mike was murdered, prosecutors in the federal drug case against Norton were forced to rely on written statements that detailed his alleged participation in a heroin ring being operated out of the Hi-Note Lounge located in the 4800 block of Delmar Avenue. With Jones dead, on Nov. 26, Nortons defense attorneys saw another opportunity. They appealed to the court again in an attempt to get the case against him tossed out before a verdict could be rendered.

      This time, the defense filed a motion to dismiss the indictment for failure to produce a material witness for the defendant to interview, claiming that by not arresting Norton when the indictment was initially handed down and denied the ability to question potential witnesses that he had been irreparably harmed. The irony, of course, was that Big Mike Jones was dead and Norton had likely planned and helped carry out his murder. And, with my father now lying in the city morgue, I found it reasonable to think that Nortons tracks had been sufficiently covered.

      The motion was denied. Norton was convicted on Nov. 28, 1973. He was sentenced to a federal prison camp on Dec. 21, 1973. He lost a subsequent appeal, but would be released within 10 years.

      In 1973, Bernard Pratt and former state representative John F. Conley were also found guilty after being charged with selling heroin from the same lounge.

      I believe the three men are dead now; Im certain that Conley and Norton are dead. My older cousin told me Norton was destitute when he died getting high in 2002. Few of his surviving associates will talk about him. Some wont even admit that they knew him, and others, like Lorenzo Petty, simply hang up the phone at the mention of his name.

      When I first went looking for Norton, as an 18-year-old, first-semester college freshman in 1986, he was back in federal custody. This time on credit card and mail fraud charges, after he and a live-in girlfriend filled out hundreds of department store applications and made purchases under fake identities. In June 1986, I wrote him a letter in hopes that he could tell me something, anything, about my father. The envelope had been opened but was re-sealed when it arrived in my student mailbox, marked return to sender.

      Court records show Norton was arrested again in 1988 and convicted the following year for possession of cocaine and heroin with the intent to distribute. U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh sentenced the 38-year-old to 41 months at a federal prison camp.

      Haymon says Norton didnt work directly for the Pettys in the early 70s. But multiple sources confirmed that Norton had a close relationship with the brothers and that they reconnected shortly after his second release from a federal prison.

      But if Haymon is right about Norton, he did not have the stomach to kill a man. Over the course of three decades, Ive had doors slammed in my face, been hung up on, and had mail returned. That silence, and a lengthy conversation with others who knew Norton, left me convinced of two things: Norton was indeed involved in the murders. And at least one of the co-conspiratorsmaybe even the man who killed my fathermay still be alive.

      The answers, I have now come to believe, are unknowable. As my father had been when he was alive, they feel just out of reach.


      I remember the funeral. I remember the throng of mourners, the hundreds of people who filed into the pews at Mercy Seat Missionary Baptist Church on Washington Streetwhere my maternal grandmother, Alice, had been a member since 1941. Her pastor, Pastor Roosevelt Brown, gave the eulogy.

      I remember the baptismal pool, situated high above the pulpit and the choir stand, and the four chandeliers that dangled over the altar. I remember the beautiful brown suit mother chose for him, his jet-black, shoulder-length hair and receding hairline. I remember the white flowers draped over the bronze and gold casket. The smell of lilies never left me. The wailing started when a soloist began singing His Eye Is on the Sparrow.

      I sing because Im happy, I sing because Im free,His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me

      One by one, each of ushis wife, his mother, and his childrenwere escorted to the altar to say goodbye. My mother, brother Christopher, and I were the last to stand, the last to touch him before the funeral director closed and locked the coffin. But Ive never forgotten the stillness of his face, his perfectly etched mustache and silky smooth skin. And then, the next day, being scooped up by my godmother, carried over the gravel driveway and across the lawn at Greenwood Cemetery off Lucas and Hunt Road on St. Louis Avenue.

      Of the boys and men present at the memorial service, almost none have survived. Nearly 20 years after we laid my father to rest, my brother Christopher was shot dead in a remarkably similar ambush, and my brother Donnie succumbed to HIV/AIDS in 1995. The oldest living man in my immediate family, excluding my long-lost brother Terry, was born in 1986. For me, there are no fathers, no uncles, no grandfathers, and no brothers left whom I was raised with. We are a family of women. My mother, who retired after nearly 40 years with Marriott, raised us on her own.

      Curiously, a pallbearer discovered a folded two-dollar bill tucked into my fathers suit pocketan omen, my decidedly superstitious Aunt Doris Jean said, of bad luck. My fathers killer was said to have been among the mourners.

      EDITORS NOTE: This story is an excerpt from Taylors forthcoming memoir, Let Me Still Be Singing When Evening Comes.

      Read more:

      What fathers do

      Some fathers do these things.

      Some fathers go to the Columbus Public Library used book sale in about 1980 and buy five big boxes of books on every topic. They place those books in a playroom and they result in a consistently relevant personal library for his kids. Every year they learn something new out of that room.

      Some fathers take their sons and daughters to Computer Express, a small computer shop, after taking you to Radio Shack and Sun TV and deciding the prices there are too high. Some fathers help you decide on an Atari 800XL with tape drive and they buy you River Raid to go with it.

      Some fathers buy you a modem and let you call BBSes all night.

      They take you to Boy Scouts and help you win the local Pinewood Derby. They drive you to Bell Labs where you learn UNIX and shell scripting.

      Some fathers sit with you and type in programs out of the back of ANTIC Magazine.

      They convince the family it wants a dog and picks a special breed, a Kerry Blue Terrier, because it doesnt shed.

      They get drunk at the Sheraton hotel bar happy hour and fall out of the car and turn you off alcohol until late in college. Thats when you really find you have a taste for it.

      Some fathers help you with your science fair projects and explore wind power with you by making balsa wood models of various generators.

      Some fathers give you phone wire, broken stereos, and a soldering iron and tell you to experiment. You do. Some fathers have a garage full of tools and show you how to cut wood and fix brakes and listen to NPR on a broken radio.

      Some fathers buy you a Packard Bell 286 and help you learn programming.

      Some fathers leave a basket of vinyl in the basement and in it you find Dylan, the Stones, and Janis Joplin, thereby making you the least pop-culturally-aware high schooler in Columbus.

      Some fathers work for 40 years at the same boring job to pay for a house and food.

      Some fathers take you to Europe and show you the magic of travel. They buy you Mad Magazine in German.

      They take you to Mad Magazines offices in Manhattan where you meet Dick DiBartolo, Nick Meglin, and Bill Gaines. That could inspire you to be a writer.

      They marvel at your new novel, The Tale of the White Worm, you write when youre twelve. They edit your school essays and, one night, they write an entire research paper about The Crucible for you because youre sick.

      Some fathers drive you from college to college looking for the right one. Then some fathers come drive you back from the right college every summer because you dont have a car.

      Some fathers help you sell your car when you move to Poland for work.

      Some fathers come to your wedding in Warsaw.

      They Skype you almost every day, leaving cryptic messages and posting links from Craigslist. Some fathers listen to Rush Limbaugh all day because hes a pleasant distraction.

      Some fathers drive twelve hours to visit you in Brooklyn.

      Some fathers get grumpy.

      Some fathers still make you laugh.

      Some fathers get lung cancer.

      Some fathers make you scared.

      Their failing health encourages you to run again and quit drinking because watching a man who looks so much like you get sick is frightening. But it also encourages you to reconnect with him.

      I know: Some fathers beat you. Some fathers leave you. Some fathers die early. Some fathers are cruel. Some fathers die inside.

      But some of us get lucky.

      Some fathers are great. Some fathers are kind. Some fathers educate, expand, and elucidate. Some fathers give all.

      Some of us get lucky.

      Happy Fathers Day.

      Read more:

      Healthy Families BC: Sodium and Kidney Disease, hypertension, reducing salt, reducing sodium

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      (Transcript to follow)

      Registered Dietitian Melodie Yong talks about sodium and how it can impact your kidneys. Produced for the Province of BC by Global TV BC. Original airdate August, 1 2011.

      Melodie Yong, registered dietitian: "We've been talking about sodium and its affect on the heart. What many people don't realize is that your sodium intake can also greatly affect your kidney function."

      Dr. Monica Beaulieu: "Excess sodium causes your body to hold onto more water. This could lead to high blood pressure and to swelling. Over time, this can put a strain on the kidneys, sometimes leading to kidney damage and even kidney failure."

      Melodie: "And if your kidneys are failing this can lead to dialysis and waiting for a kidney transplant."

      Dr. Beaulieu: "Dialysis helps take over the function of the failed kidney if someone does go into kidney failure. It doesn't replace all the kidney function but it helps by taking care of some of the wastes and removing some of the fluid that the kidneys normally would do. Sodium's not the only cause of kidney failure but excess sodium is definitely a factor."

      Melodie: "Reducing sodium is just one way to ensure your kidneys are able to do their job. You can learn more about sodium's affect on your kidneys and resources on how to reduce your sodium intake at "

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