Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Father's Day

With Father's Day coming up, it got me to thinking about my relationship with my dad. Sorry, there's not really any comedy in this post. It might be a downer, but its been on my mind so I'm gonna talk about it. First let me say, I loved my father with all of my heart. I'm old enough to understand him now, even if I disagree with his choices. This isn't a pity party post, just an expression of how it made it me feel. I have never used the "I didn't have a father" excuse because my mother and grandmother did a great job providing for me and my siblings. We were not hood casualties, in fact I never really understood how tough things were until I got older. So, shout out to the strong women in my life who held me down and taught me the core values that I needed to become a man.

My father was around for the first 8 years of life. When we lived in New York, he was my number one role model. I wanted to emulate the coolness that he exuded. He was the one who passed down his love of music to me. My love of sports and writing I also attribute to him. When he and my mother separated, I was just a kid, I had no idea what the issues were. I just knew that he was gone. He went back to his hometown of Columbus, Georgia and I didn't really see him anymore.

A few years later, New York cost of living became too much for us, so we moved to Savannah, Georgia with my mother's mother. Since we were closer, we occasionally visit my father or he would take the Greyhound to visit us. Our relationship was mostly sending letters and school pictures and a week visit in the summer. I was okay with that. We were cool with each other, but nowhere as close as my sister was with him. The relationship grew more and more strained as time went on; visits became more and more infrequent. Child support was virtually non existent.

Around age 15, I got deep into the pro Black spirit that swept through rap music. You know reading Malcolm X, Africa medallions and the like. Part of what I learned during that period was about Black men taking care of their responsibilities. My father wasn't doing that, so I lost a ton of respect for him. Eventually, that turned into anger. I was angry that this man that claimed to love his children wasn't handling his business. I didn't want to be around him, even the during the sporadic summer visits to Columbus. This anger consumed me for the better part of high school. I vowed to myself that no matter what happened in my life, I would not end up like him.

What I didn't know at the time was that my father had a drug problem. I know that's not an excuse for his bad parenting, but its an explanation. Looking back as a seasoned adult, the signs were all there. When I was a kid, I used to see him sniffing powder and rolling his own cigarettes. I just didn't know that it was weed. As a somewhat sheltered teenager, I didn't recognize the residual odor in my father's house as marijuana. I didn't know back then that burnt spoons in his bedroom were for cooking heroin. I didn't know that his frequent stays in the Muscogee County jail were for drug possession. I simply saw him as a trifling negro and left it at that.

As I went to college and began to experience more of life, I had a strange (at least to me) desire to reconnect with my father. It all started with a letter I wrote him while he was in jail for the umpteenth time. I poured out my heart and emotions to him displaying a vulnerability that I seldom reveal. I told him how his behavior affected me yet still let him know that the door was open to a relationship if he wanted. I explained that I would not judge him for his faults, and even if we couldn't have a typical father - son relationship, we could still forge some type of communication. He responded with an equally eloquent letter, which revealed his thoughts and regrets. I saw glimpses in his writing of the genius that had been stifled for so long. He sent me some of his writing, poetry and prose, and believe me when I tell you this man was fucking brilliant. The correspondence culminated with a visit to the jail. He was scheduled to get out in a couple of months and we vowed that we would start fresh upon his release.

In January 1995, my father was released from his incarceration. I remember it like it was yesterday. He called on a Monday to tell me he was a free man once more. We made vague plans for a meeting, but I was wrapped up in my college life and my girlfriend at the time. I was living my life, ya know. That Wednesday when I was in class, I got a beep from my grandmother. I didn't immediately return her call, I had to play some spades in the student center before going to work. When I finally called her back, she asked me to come home. I told her I was on the way. I arrived not thinking anything of the request, but then she told me that my father had died. At first, the details weren't clear. Something about heart failure. I didn't cry, I was sad, but the tears didn't come. Later, I found out the real deal. My father died as a result of cocaine induced heart arrythmia. Apparently, first thing he did after getting out of jail was to go on a drug binge. I thought his time in lock up had straightened him out, but I was wrong. Even knowing his flaws, I still have love for my father. He was a brilliant man, that got caught up in an unhealthy lifestyle. When I tell this story, I offer no excuses for the man, just acceptance. Instead of being consumed with hate, like I used to be, I use his life as motivation to be a better man. I know that when I have children, I will do everything in my power not to waste any precious moments with them. Sorry for the depressing post, but Father's Day brought up these old feelings and I just had to express them.

It was written...

34 Comments:

Blogger Honey-Libra said...

I can remember growing up feeling anger towards my biological mother for "giving" me and my siblings away I later found out that we were taken away becuase she was into drugs....I felt angry that I didn't know my biological father..come to find out he didn't even know what was goin on..he wasn't even in the right frame of mind to take care of children..so I thank God that it was seen to give me the parents I have now...no regrets I love them dearly. Good post.

Wed Jun 14, 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Mocha_Grl said...

First of all i'm impressed amidst all of the confusion about your father that you really recognized the women in your life.

Though it's terribly sad that you lost your father just as you were beginning to reconnect with him, I'm so glad you got an opportunity to see a different side of your father via your letters while he was locked up. Your ability to acknoweldge his flaws but still express love for him and use his life for motivation really demonstrates your maturity.

It wasn't a depresing post...through this we got to see a different side of you.

Thanks for sharing T

Wed Jun 14, 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger NegroPino™ said...

I can offer hugs and lots of them.......

Wed Jun 14, 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Miz JJ said...

It is impressive that you didn't use not having a father to be or do bad things. Also, adults realize that our parents are flawed people. They aren't perfect. I have a lot of gripes with regard to my father, but I realized he's human and he did the best he could, which was still pretty damn good.

Wed Jun 14, 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger i like liquor and tv said...

Wow. As Mocha said, I'm glad you got a chance to see another side of him before he passed. It's just sad that he went out that like.

Wed Jun 14, 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are defintitely not a "hood casualty". That was beautifully written and I could feel the emotion. If you never recieved anything from your father you did recieve an invaluable lesson from him. I think one day when you find the right woman you will be a wonderful father.

Wed Jun 14, 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger P said...

**SIGH**

This is a great post.

Unfortunately, the pain an angst of a drug addicted person is that they can never run from themselves.

Some of us in some way, shape or form have a tattered relationship with one or both of their parents. I am pleased that you addressed this maturely, and with an open mind - and conscience.

And as for your feelings, you're not the only one.

Wed Jun 14, 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger P said...

**SIGH**

This is a great post.

Unfortunately, the pain an angst of a drug addicted person is that they can never run from themselves.

Some of us in some way, shape or form have a tattered relationship with one or both of their parents. I am pleased that you addressed this maturely, and with an open mind - and conscience.

And as for your feelings, you're not the only one.

Wed Jun 14, 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger chele said...

No apologies are necessary. This post was anything but depressing. Because out of all that you were able to get something positive from it. You learned a lesson. You know what NOT to do. I ain't mad at you.

Wed Jun 14, 03:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Diva (in Demand) said...

Your post truly touched my heart. Your ability to express your feelings about your father speaks volumes!

Wed Jun 14, 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Nika Laqui said...

Thanks for sharing, you made me realize that I can raise a strong healthy black man alone, only difference is, I don't have a mother, therefore my son doesn't have a grandmother...

Hopefully, my son's father doesn't take the path of your father and maybe they too can reconnect....

Wed Jun 14, 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Chosen said...

That was a beautiful post. There was no depressing moment in it. It's wonderful for a man to be able to pull his emotions together and be willing to share them.

Thank you for that.

Wed Jun 14, 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Tenacious said...

excellent post T

Not depressing at all. I wish I could let go some of the anger that I have for my father. But your post was real good.

Thanks :-)

Wed Jun 14, 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger ChezNiki said...

Hey Casanova-That was so beautiful! I cant say anymore too choked up ((Hugs))

Thu Jun 15, 01:53:00 AM  
Blogger Ms. Behavin' said...

Great post! Although, your Dad died before you got a chance to see him again, you really are one of the lucky ones. There aren't many people who would have taken the opportunity to reconnect.

Thu Jun 15, 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger T. Cas said...

@ everyone - thanks for the kind words. This was like therapy for me. I just had to get it out.

Thu Jun 15, 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger The Stiltwalker said...

this wasn't depressing at all. I hear stories like this all the time and people will say things like "we don't speak" or "he/she is nothing to me." But in all honesty I'd give anything to know my biological parents and I'd take them drugged out, gay, crazy, whatever...

So its great to hear that you don't have such ill feelings and you can look back and be reminded of times you spent together, menial or not.

Thu Jun 15, 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger YouToldHarpoTaBeatMe said...

That wasn't depressing at all. Too many see black and white. Not too many people are willing to get to the root of an absentee parent.

You did.

Not that drug abuse is an excuse, but you knew the man had a serious demon he was battling with, and you didn't allow the condition he was in to define him.

Great post.

Thu Jun 15, 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger jameil1922 said...

not depressing. truth. don't apologize for or excuse your truth. that was beautiful. i love hearing people's stories. perhaps that's why i'm in journalism and addicted to blogging.

Thu Jun 15, 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger So...Wise...Sista said...

Not depressing in the least. Talk about keepin it real. I think as adults we all have a moment where we realize out parents are just, real people. They have problems, and fears and dreams like we do. And one thing I've learned is that we not only inherit their genes, we also inherit sensibilities, the way we relate to people, the things we feel about ourselves. The relationship we have with our parents shapes every relationship we have from childhood on. Having told that story, I bet you can think of a lot of ways that not having him around has affected who you are today. Thank you for sharing. See, told ya therapy is great! :)

Thu Jun 15, 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger JulieA said...

Thank you for writing that post. It wasn't depressing at all, more of a reflection of when you received your life lesson, or wake up call. Sad that we have to mourn the loss of a loved one, in order to understand what living really is. Peace

Thu Jun 15, 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Collipark said...

Well homie, I somewhat feel your pain. The major difference is...at least you had the chance to know your father, whereas I did not. That is a void that will never be filled. I appreciate everything that my mother has done because I know it had to be hard for her...but it still feels like a piece of you is lost.

Thu Jun 15, 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger nikki said...

totally not depressing.

enlightening, yes. depressing, no.

you've learned from his behavior on what not to do. i hope you also recognize the great things about him that you embody now cuz i'm sure he wasn't all bad. i think it's important to seek out the positive things because if we focus on all the bad things about our parents it might alter how we see ourselves in a negative way.

also, i agree with sowise...there are alot of intangibles we inherit as a result of our relationships with our parents. i mean think about it...the first relationships we form in our lives are the ones with our mom and dad (if they're around). if our relationships 'fail' with them, it becomes that much more difficult for us to maintain healthy relationships with anybody else.

you did what you could and reached out. i hope you continue reaching out in that manner with other folk in your life.

Thu Jun 15, 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger fallen angel said...

my relationship with my biological father is about five years old now. he is also the source of my musical passion (go figure that we get it from the absent parent). although i dont know you i will tell you that i'm proud of you. proud that you have learned how to put your father's life in perspective to your own. proud that you've not allowed anger to eat away at all the memories of yall's time together. proud that you were able to share your father's day "gift" with all of us. as with any personal post, i appreciate the glimpse you've allowed us into your personal life...
~fallen angel

Thu Jun 15, 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger The Mistress said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thu Jun 15, 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger The Mistress said...

Awww....T! What a moving post! I'm a crier so you already know this induced a few waterworks! :-(

I so empathize with you and others who have had difficult or non-existant relationships with their fathers. It's such a heart-breaking epidemic in our community.

On the bright side though, I have no doubt that you will break the cycle once you have kids! I can see it now...Big Daddy T Casanova! How cute! :-)

Your words and experiences really help me appreciate what an amazing, loving father I've been blessed to have all my life!

Thu Jun 15, 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger "N" Search of Ecstasy said...

I agree, definitely not depressing and the comments above express it all.

Thu Jun 15, 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger T. Cas said...

Thanks again for the kind comments and letting me get that out.

Fri Jun 16, 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger Sangindiva said...

I know what it's like to have a father
dealing with the beast. drugs destroy lives.
Big ups for recognizing that you don't have to be this
way. I can't wait to hear you speak on your youngins'.

Tue Jun 20, 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I'm late but this post was great! Not depressing at all. Very mature acceptance of real life. Thanks for sharing.

Mon Jun 26, 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Still_Pocahontaz said...

Wow. Im speechless because my father has not been constant in my life either and its hard to explain his behavior. Almost a month ago he got out of jail, I told my children and two days later he called me and told he was back.Im confused and frustrated at him but at this point all I can do is pray for him

I saw your post reference on Mags page of course...thanks for sharing

Tue Apr 22, 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Opinionated Diva said...

I don't even know what I want to say...too many thoughts in my head right now...but I do appreciate you for telling your story.

Tue Apr 22, 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Days like These! said...

thank you for sharing your story. it was very touching and i know you'll make a great father one day!

Thu Sep 11, 07:38:00 PM  
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