Lisa Ray signed up for a StoryCorps booth in Norfolk, Va., because she wanted to share a particular memory of her father.
Lisa Ray signed up for a StoryCorps booth in Norfolk, Va., because she wanted to share a particular memory of her father. StoryCorps
Lisa Ray doesn't have many distinct memories of her father — he died in 1971, when she was just 6 years old. But she does recall one episode that reveals a lot about him.
The Ray family lived in Flat Rock, N.C. And when Lisa Ray was 5, she realized she was on the verge of losing a tooth. When her father, Lenoir, came home from work, he made sure it came out.
"When it was over, he told me all these stories about the Tooth Fairy," Ray said.
"So when I went to bed that night, I was so excited," she said.
"I put my tooth under my pillow, and I woke up the next morning, and I stuck my hand under my pillow — and pulled out my tooth."
Ray found her parents, who were eating breakfast. She walked over and put out her hand, showing them the tooth.
"Mama started to say something," she remembers, "and Daddy just threw his hand out and stopped her."
"Ray is at the end of the alphabet," her father explained. "The Tooth Fairy must've been really busy last night."
He told her she should get back to bed — and surely, the fairy would be along any minute to take her tooth.
Ray did that — and was starting to go back to sleep when she heard footsteps in the hallway.
"So I shut my eyes really quickly," she said, "and I thought, 'Don't fairies fly?' "
She sensed that someone was standing over her — and then she felt a big, hairy hand slide beneath her pillow.
"And I thought, 'Aren't fairies tiny little women?' So I peeked through my lashes," she said, "and I saw the door shutting — and the back of a bald head that looked just like my dad's."
She reached under her pillow and found a quarter. Just then, her older sister, Jacki, returned from the shower. Lisa Ray asked her about what she'd seen, and said that maybe there's no such thing as the Tooth Fairy.
"That was the Gentle Giant," her sister said. "He helps the Tooth Fairy when she's busy."
The two sisters walked back to the breakfast table to ask their parents about it. And her father told Ray, "Of course, I told you about that yesterday."
Now, Ray realizes that her father slipped up that day. But she's still glad her first visit from the Tooth Fairy — or the fairy's emissaries — was so memorable.
"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."
Produced for Morning Edition by Vanara Taing. The Senior Producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with WHRO.