The Detective’s Daughter

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The flu has hit the Wickeds! Kim we hope you feel better soon. We are bringing you this encore post — the very first one Kim wrote almost four years ago.

Today we introduce Kim Gray, winner of the 2009 William F. Deck – Malice Domestic Grant. We met Kim at the Seascape Writers Retreat in 2009. Her stories of growing up as a detective’s daughter fascinated us and now she will be sharing them in a monthly column. Welcome Kim!

By Kim Gray In Baltimore City

Today we introduce Kim Gray, winner of the 2009 William F. Deck – Malice Domestic Grant. We met Kim at the Seascape Writers Retreat in 2009. Her stories of growing up as a detective’s daughter fascinated us and now she will be sharing them in a monthly column. Welcome Kim!

With a mother who grew up as a grave digger’s daughter, and a dad who was a homicide detective for over thirty years, is it any wonder I spend copious hours contemplating death? I can’t see an abandoned glove without wondering where the remains of the owner might be. Every discarded trash bag left along the side of the road has the potential for holding together a dismembered body. Even the innocence of a free floating balloon brings my thoughts to mayhem. I can not help myself.

kimbabypicAs a child, I didn’t spend a great deal of time with my dad. He worked everyday, after all, this was Baltimore City, a place synonymous with murder. Dad was a busy man. He was also a man of few words. There wasn’t a great deal of conversation during dinner, for my mom was also a quiet person. On the nights Dad brought home a folder of a case he was working on, well that was a treat. On those nights he actually talked with us. There was nothing he loved more than to discuss a case. I hung on every word and they seeped through my skin and into my bloodstream.

On occasion Dad would let me run an errand with him. We’d be driving down a street and he would point out locations where bodies had been found. Later in life I referred to this as Dad’s Homicide Tour. It was interesting and if he were alive today I believe he could have had an enterprising business.

kim's dadThe story I remember most clearly occurred near St. Paul street, in a very posh neighborhood. Dad pointed to a large Victorian house on the corner. “See that third floor window, over to the right? Well, we were called in there for a suspicious death. Parents claimed the boy hung himself. But I could see straight away it was wrong. Everything was wrong. The kid had a bruise around his wrist and the rope just wasn’t right. Found out within an hour the stepfather had a history of domestic abuse. He killed the kid, said it was accidental.”

So many stories were similar to that one. Hardly a street was passed without a story of some poor person and their final moments in Baltimore. As hard as I tried to pay attention, listen to every syllable he uttered, I wish I had written it all down. At the time it didn’t matter what he said,or what story he told. I only cared that he was talking, sharing a story and some time with me.

On a summer night a few years ago I was sitting at a red light in a very posh neighborhood of the city. My own children were very young and my dad had been dead three months.  Looming ahead of me was a Victorian-style mansion. “Hey guys, see that house?” I asked my kids. They were busy looking at books in the back seat. “Well, years and years ago Grandpa Charlie was the lead detective on a case there.”

And so the tour continues to this day,with me passing the torch to the next generation of homicide hunters.

Readers: What traditions do you carry on with your kids?

17 Thoughts

  1. Feel better, Kim. The flu has been rough this year. What a wonderful story. I missed it the first time around, so Sherry, thank you for re-running it.

    No children for me, so no immediate generational traditions. Had I children though, I would have hoped to carry on the tradition of handcrafting. Both of my parents were artistic, my mother knit and drew, my father did fine woodwork and could build anything from a thought to a finished product. My brother and I both carry the handcrafting we started as children.

  2. Feel better soon, Kim! My father was famous for leaping up from the dinner table to fetch a reference volume that would answer one of his children’s questions. My sons never had the great pleasure of knowing my father, but I’ve made sure they know lots of stories about him, and we all love to fact check as we’re eating and talking.

    1. My children only remember my dad as the man he became with his illness. I am also sorry my children did not get to see him in his prime when he still had his dry sense of humor and his artistic skills still intact.

  3. I hope you feel better very soon Kim. Lots of fun little silly traditions and stories in the family that particularly manifest themselves at the holiday time. We even have one around the little hard candies that our grandmothers put out at Christmas. Family members now get their share of “old lady candy” as one of my kids,then about five years old, called it. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a necessity to watch as there are two stories in it that remind us of family “incidents” that make us smile, including the dog under the table!

  4. Kim, hope you feeling better REAL soon!

    The flu bug is bad every where it seems. They say our county is the worse in our state and our state ranks #1. Not the kind of record I’d like to have just know we’ve both had it here.

  5. Yikes! Feel better, Kim.

    And I think I had missed this column when it originally ran. Thanks for dusting it off so I could read it.

  6. How interesting to be the daughter of a homicide detective.

    A tradition that carried over to my daughter is watching endless re-runs of I Love Lucy. I used to watch it with my grandmother growing up, and into adulthood. My daughter grew up watching it with me, and now she loves it too. Both of us watched Unsolved Mysteries together until it got a little weird with the UFO sightings and psychic stuff. Then we became I.D. Addicts.

    I hope you feel better soon. It’s going around.

  7. We have a lot of them at Christmas. Our daughter is 48, but we still read her The Night Before Christmas in bed when she is here. If she isn’t here, we read it on the phone to here wherever she may be. (We really yuck it up with sound effects, etc.) We have pumpkin pancakes for Christmas breakfast. Whenever she visits she always gets homemade split pea soup and pumpkin pie.

    And we have a long-standing “pass the partial bag of unwanted coconut back and forth in sneaky ways” tradition. It always has to be cleverly hidden or cleverly gotten to one another.

  8. Not happy that Kim had the flu, but happy that I got to read the encore post. So intriguing!

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