Confessions of a Fatherless Child
Like many of my friends growing up in Philadelphia, I raised by my mother. As I recall, during my childhood I had little to no contact with my biological father. You know what’s weird… It didn’t bother me one bit. I do not recall asking “Where is my father?” or saying “I want to meet my dad.” To me the situation was the situation, and I was happy as can be.
Truth be told, now that I think about it, it is quite sad. It’s sad that a kid would think it’s normal that his or her father isn’t around and that mom was the only parent needed. Fast forward to late April 2012, and I finally get to meet my father at the legendary Penn Relays.
One thing I do know about my father is that he was a runner just like me and my mother. My father is about 2-3 inches shorter than me, 5 shades lighter in complexion and 30 lbs lighter. I must admit that meeting him for the first time I had 0 feelings for him. Afterall, he was a stranger to me. He, on the other hand, came off as nervous and very apologetic. We talked for about 5 minutes, exchanged phone numbers then he rushed off to prepare for his race later that day.
“So how did it feel to meet your father?” a friend asked.
All I said was he looks nothing like me, and it was okay. However, what I was thinking was “Why now?”
Fast forward several more conversations and fact finding missions later, I get down to the bottom of why he was not present in my life. He was heavy into narcotics, using and selling. He chose drug addiction, and my mother wanted no part of that so she ended it but kept lines of communication open just in case he ever wanted to come around.
At this point, I realized that I was lucky on two fronts. First, I had a mother who did everything in her power to shield me from the dangers of my environment. Second, I was one of the lucky fatherless children who was able to ask their father …. why?
However, even knowing “Why?” I still didn’t care…
Then my daughter Olivia Madison Brown was born, and then it hit me. I did care, I cared a whole lot. See, when you’re caring for an infant you realize that the kid is innocent and 100% dependent on your for survival. To turn your back on your child is a cowardly move.
I remember being in the hospital having to do a lot of the heavy lifting because my wife just went through 18 hours of labor and had limited mobility. I recall asking her, “How do single mothers do this?” The nurse chimed in “With a lot of help.”
I remember thinking… damn he is fucked up! Then I thought of my mom, and I got angry. I remember writing my article, “Can I survive at the Poverty Line?” As a child I remember all the fun, the traveling and just the good ol’ times. She told me… (paraphrasing)
“I shielded all the bad stuff from you. There were times when you ate and I didn’t, there were times we had no lights in the house. I went to school during the day and worked at night, so I could provide for you.”
What man would let his “family” go through this? I thought. Then the answer hit me… not a real one. Come to find out I wasn’t the only child. I have about 6 or 7 brothers and sisters on my father’s side. I ended up meeting all but three of them face to face.
After meeting them and having conversations with them I can tell you this, I was the lucky one. However, that is solely due to my mother and the value of hard work that she instilled in me. My life is as different as night and day when compared to my brothers’ and sisters’ lives. Part of me is mad that my father was not there for my mother, but a part of me is happy he wasn’t. If my past changed in the slightest, there is a chance my life would not be what it is now.
I say that to say this my father taught me something through his absence and that one thing is to be present for those you love. Since, I didn’t have a father, I feel obligated to be the best one possible for my daughter. I’m not talking just financially, I’m talking emotionally. I’ve seen the effects of a fatherless daughter via my sisters, and I would never wish the same fate on anyone.
Thanks Dad for teaching me one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned. Love, your son!
When reading this please keep in mind that I’m an ENTJ. I focus on solutions to problems rather than dwell on them. Hence, the reason for the gem I found from such a terrible situation. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and you learn more from failure or the failure of others than you do from success.