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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Each Friday we bring you StoryCorps. This traveling oral history project turns the microphone over to everyday people and listens to what they have to say.

(Soundbite of music)

WERTHEIMER: Today, a daughter's intimate interview with her father. George Caywood has four daughters. All are grown now. Raising them was marked by his struggle with intense depression. Here, his eldest, Gina, talks with him about that struggle and how their young family got through.

Ms. GINA CAYWOOD: Dad, one of the most difficult times in my childhood, I think, was one of your most difficult times in your life, and that is when you went through a major depression. Can you tell me about what that was like?

Mr. GEORGE CAYWOOD: Well, if you've ever been walking down the street, maybe at night, and a huge dog charges you, growling and barking, you know, that moment of utter panic and fear; it was like that 24 hours a day.

Ms. CAYWOOD: Our bedrooms shared a common wall and I could hear at, you know, five in the morning, you crying, just terrified to go to work and to take on another day.

Mr. CAYWOOD: Do you remember the poem you wrote me?

Ms. CAYWOOD: I do.

Mr. CAYWOOD: Yes, that will my dad ever stop crying.

Ms. CAYWOOD: Right, yeah, like, can I have my dad back.

Mr. CAYWOOD: Oh, gosh.

Ms. CAYWOOD: Yeah.

Mr. CAYWOOD: When I was going through it, I knew that there was this darkness that I had been chasing off all my life, that I knew if I was going to be genuinely happy, which I wanted to be, I was going to have to face all that darkness.

Ms. CAYWOOD: And yet, it was amazing, you were such a wonderful, loving father to us.

Mr. CAYWOOD: Certainly, it's the thing I worked at hardest in my life. Even though I made a lot of mistakes with you and your three sisters, you have not breathed a breath, Gina, you and your sisters, when you weren't the most important thing in my life.

I remember when you were born, looking at you, saying, I have no idea how to be your father. So, my goal was, I wanted to be positive with you. I knew I was going to have to say no sometimes, but I wanted that to be against thousands of yeses, in the hopes that you would grow up as positive as you actually are.

Ms. CAYWOOD: Sometimes when you did say no, I could bat my eyelashes at you and get you to change your mind...

Mr. CAYWOOD: It still works

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CAYWOOD: Each of the four girls had their own technique. You know, yours was those brown eyes.

Ms. CAYWOOD: Please, Dad...

Mr. CAYWOOD: Well, see, I'm melting on the spot. And, you know, Jill was just so everlastingly on my side that she was hard to resist; and Janelle, who turned out to be a very capable attorney, remembered everything I ever said.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CAYWOOD: She would say, now, Dad, four years ago on this date, you said this, and now you're saying this. Don't you think you're being inconsistent?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CAYWOOD: And then JoAnna, she would grab my face between her hands and turn me to look at her because she sort of said my dad is an understanding person; he's reasonably bright. If I can just get him to see the truth, he'll surely let me do what I want.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CAYWOOD: And the four of you together, you know, I knew I was whipped.

Ms. CAYWOOD: You know, I think one of the things that my sisters and I have always felt is that you are a great, great man and I hope that somehow this interview today brings you the honor that I think you deserve.

Mr. CAYWOOD: I wouldn't trade this for every accolade in the whole world, you know. I love you, honey.

Ms. CAYWOOD: I love you, too.

(Soundbite of music)

WERTHEIMER: Gina Caywood with her father, George Caywood, from a StoryCorps booth in Los Angeles.

StoryCorps interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Previous conversations are also archived at npr.org.

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