StoryCorps: A Father-Daughter Relationship Strained By 'Mental Illness And Time' Shotzy Harrison's dad has spent most of his adult life homeless. Growing up, he was in and out of her life. They reunited in 2013 before he disappeared again — but she hopes she'll see him again.
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A Father-Daughter Relationship Strained By 'Mental Illness And Time'

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A Father-Daughter Relationship Strained By 'Mental Illness And Time'

A Father-Daughter Relationship Strained By 'Mental Illness And Time'

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  • Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It is Friday, and it's time for StoryCorps. And today we hear from Shotzy Harrison and her father James Flavy Coy Brown. They sat down for StoryCorps six years ago. Recently, Harrison came back to talk about that interview. You'll hear parts of both recordings. This is a clip from the first one.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

SHOTZY HARRISON: My father has a southern drawl.

JAMES FLAVY COY BROWN: I'm James Flavy Coy Brown, and I'm here with my daughter.

HARRISON: I'm Shotzy Harrison. I think of Yosemite Sam, almost like he's trying to be funny. But that's just his real voice. You were with me until I was 3 years old.

FLAVY COY BROWN: Yeah. When I got off work every night, I'd pick you up from the day care center. And I always brought you one of those great, big, huge lollipops.

HARRISON: And then you kept disappearing on me.

GREENE: Harrison's father has been treated for several mental illnesses. He spent most of his adult life homeless. She only saw him a handful of times growing up. Once, she found him living in the woods behind a hotel. But in 2013, Harrison brought Brown home to live with her in Winston-Salem, N.C.

HARRISON: I showed you the pictures of my house. You know, here's the basement I fixed up for you. And you said, I'm going to be living like a king.

FLAVY COY BROWN: You rescued me. Shotzy, do you ever worry about me living here with you?

HARRISON: I do. I have two young girls. And I don't always feel like you're the best influence on them. It's just that you're a little rough around the edges and uncouth and used to being homeless and not used to anybody, especially not your daughter, telling you what you can and can't do.

FLAVY COY BROWN: You know, it's hard. But I'm working on it. I don't pee in the backyard anymore.

HARRISON: (Laughter) The good outweighs the bad. You have tea parties with my daughters.

FLAVY COY BROWN: Yeah.

HARRISON: So many favorite moments between us - which one pops into your head first?

FLAVY COY BROWN: That night I was feeling real bad and you held my hand until I went to sleep. And you said, daddy, you can stay with me as long as you want to.

HARRISON: I didn't know that meant so much to you.

FLAVY COY BROWN: Yeah. What are your hopes for me?

HARRISON: I hope that your mental illness either stays stable or improves. I hope that you can continue to live with us. Family Christmases, family birthdays - we have so many years to make up for. I'm going to try my hardest to make sure that I don't lose you again 'cause you're good at that disappearing act. I'm lucky to have you back in my life. I love you.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "WATERMARKS")

HARRISON: Dad and I lost contact only a few months after the interview. I absolutely want to reunite with him again. And it's in the back of my mind that he's going to be already dead. And I'm going to find that public record. That's a crushing thought. But one of the things that keeps me going is I have a little of his stubborn will. And there's something powerful between a father and daughter that mental illness and time, hopefully, can't break.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "WATERMARKS")

GREENE: Shotzy Harrison - we also heard from her dad James Flavy Coy Brown from six years ago. To hear more from them, you can get the StoryCorps podcast by going to npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF BLUE DOT SESSIONS' "WATERMARKS")

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