Dad died on April 8, 1991. Harrison never wrote a book or produced an article which gave you any sense of the magnitude of Grandfather's accomplishments.
After Dad moved to Goleta he and I started talking frequently. What started as chats became interviews, some of these taking place in the hospital as his physical condition continued to deteriorate. He gave me his copy of "Picturing Miracles of Plant and Animal Life." He began handing me files to take home and read.
This was when I realized how little there really was about Grandfather out there. He was strangely absent where ordinarily there would be records and photos. Why? I asked myself.
I also asked, for the first time, about the deaths of his original parents, Dr. Ernest and Sylvia. Dad had a small silver framed picture of his mother, Grace and himself, always on his bedside table. I had seen it all of my life. Now, I looked at it closely.
This was when I asked Dad who he thought of as his father. I had never seen a photograph of Dr. Ernest. Why not? Dad would not say exactly why, but in his mind, and heart, there was only one man who came to mind when the word, 'Father' came up. It had always been 'Uncle' who was there for him.
In this same conversation he mentioned the accident, volunteered information, which he never had before. He told me to get the probate records. That is a story in itself. It cost $250.oo Generally it is $20.
In late November, 1990, Dad called me one morning. I had just dropped the kids off at school and was settling into a day of writing. Dad told me, not asked, but told me, to drop everything I was doing and call Virginia. "She had to call me now. She knows why." I was stunned. The Virginia she meant was an old child hood chum from Yosemite who had married Ansel Adams. Virginia Best Adams.
I agreed and called, repeating what Dad had said. She wiffled and waffled and sounded scared but said she would call.
I went on with my day's writing. Then, two hours later the phone rang again. It was Dad. He did not say hello. His first words were, "Just listen." Then he began to talk. When he was done he asked me, "Do you understand?" "Will you do this for me?" I said, "Yes, sir." That is the only time in my life I called him sir. But I know marching orders when I get them. After he hung up I squeezed out, "I love you." We are like that.