Letter To My Father (Deceased)
My apology for allowing so much time to pass before I decided to write you this letter. You have been on my mind a lot lately, mainly because of where my life is heading these days (more on that later). But there are a lot of factors that led to so many obstacles being between us.
After your death, there was so much tension between my family and the family of your older sons, which led to both sides withdrawing from each other. There was doubt that I was truly your son. Because you died so soon after my birth, there was never a chance to clear anything up. This is why I wasn’t given your last name…which increased the doubt and confusion.
My great-grandmother (mommy’s grandmother) felt the need to over saturate me with love and protect me from the vicious rumors surrounding the situation. I was a grown man before I was offered any clarity or closure on this topic. I didn’t even meet my other brothers (your other sons) until I was in high school, even though we lived virtually in the same area of the city. I was also in high school before I ever saw a picture of you! Imagine, being told your father died when you were 6 weeks old, but there is no trace of him left for you to identify with. No pictures, no stories, no proof besides word of mouth that you ever even existed.
Mommy spiraled even further out of control after your death. She often spoke of how different her life would have been if you were still here. It seems like you were the only person in her life that looked at her as if she had any worth. When she lost the only man who made her feel special, it devastated her to the point where she never fully recovered. She became a life-long addict who spent more time in prison then she did with me. She eventually died of complications due to the H.I.V. virus she lived with for the last 15 years of her life. She passed last year and I regret to say our relationship was not as close as a mother-son relationship should be. I wonder if that is also a product of you not being here.
In my adult life, I have been offered many theories from both sides as to what actually happened between you, my mom and your other sons’ mother. It is my understanding that you were in a happy relationship with the mother of your two sons and well on the path to being married. My mom, who was the total opposite of her, was your mistress. My mom was considered a “street chic” and many people urged you to not get involved with such a woman. So when I was born, naturally, there were skeptics who didn’t believe I was yours and urged you to be cautious. But you always knew and told those closest to you that you knew I was your son. My great-grandmother said you came to see me every day of my life up until the day you got in that motorcycle accident that claimed your life at the tender age of 27. She said that’s how she knew something was wrong, because you came everyday at the same time (even though she was probably very mean to you…knowing her). So once you were gone, mommy’s family decided it was better to remove me from the equation. And that left me with great-grandparents as a mommy and daddy…thus I am one of the oldest young men you will ever meet.
So for a long time these things weighed heavily on my soul. I had a wonderful man (my great-grandfather) step in and be the best dad he could possibly be considering he was blind and 60 years older than me…but it wasn’t the same as it would have been with you. I was subconsciously bitter that the man who made me wasn’t around to make me a man! I hated having a mom that was an addict that often bought drugs in the community in which I lived. I was forced to not only coexist, but I played basketball and hung out with some of the dudes who had “served” my mom. I was angry that I didn’t know what you looked like or what your hobbies were. I internalized all these emotions and it made me very distant with friends and family…subconsciously.
But as I became a man, and started going through my own experiences, I understood you more. I was able to get pictures of you, and I felt like I was looking in a mirror. I found out that my love for dressing “fly” came from you, my love of music came from you and my tendencies of dealing with women in a certain way also came from you. I came across letters that you had written to my mother and I felt like I had written that same letter at least 10 times to my significant other at different times in my life. I feel that every black boy on his road to self-actualization has to come to terms with understanding the traps his father fell victim to. I find myself fighting to avoid the same situations with women that I resented you for. When you attain knowledge and wisdom through experiences, you see that it makes more sense to be mad at the conditions that created the climate for those things to happen rather than being mad at the person for succumbing to the temptations within that climate…ya dig? So now instead of carrying around anger or confusion, I carry around astonishment in the fact that even though you were gone, you still raised me and passed along many of the characteristics that made you who you were.
You have been heavy on my mind lately because I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first born son in a few months. I want him to be fully aware of how great of a man his grandfather was and how splendidly flawed we both are as a result of everything you were and weren’t. It’s crazy to imagine you being a bigger presence in my life at 33 than you ever were before. And as I welcome my son into this world, he will know you more than I did…and for that I am grateful!
I hope this letter brings you peace and closure on a chapter that has been open for too long. It has for me…Peace Dad!
Your Loving Son